New UN campaign showcases wealth of climate action by companies, investors, cities, regions
ecoscope, with Doyin Adeoye
CLIMATE action by cities and companies and by regions and investors is continuing strongly since the Parish climate change conference with some 50 new actions posted on the United Nations’ portal, which was set up to showcase private sector and local authority ambition.
Ranging from South African hospitals group Netcare Ltd to Dutch banking group ING, the new commitments join over 11,000 already registered on the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA), established in 2014 at the request of the Government of Peru.
The news comes as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is managing the portal, last week also launched a global public awareness campaign to spotlight these game-changing commitments, including the many, which are happening in the developing world.
For example, the city of Puebla in Mexico committed and registered on NAZCA its aim to reduce emissions by 90 per cent by 2050. And India’s Tata Motors has committed to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 and procure 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.
It is hoped that the new campaign, entitled: ‘We’re Accelerating Climate Action,’ will encourage more entities to consider how they can make climate action commitments.
With the next UN climate conference to be held in Morocco in November this year, companies, investors, cities, regions and provinces from the global south and Africa are especially welcome.
What brought about the idea of Sprout Pencils?
The idea basically is to show in an understandable way what sustainability is all about, because it may be very difficult to actually explain what sustainability is about. So for Sprout Pencil, the idea is that you can use the product, write with it and when you are done, instead of just throwing it out, you can literally give it a new life, plant it and that is what sustainability is all about.
How did you come up with the design?
The pencil was designed by three young students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, United States of America (USA). They had a design course and were given an assignment of designing a sustainable future office product. So they came up with the idea of pencils with plant. So that was how it came around in 2012.
So they later put it on kickstarter, a crowd funding site that they were looking for money to fund the project and that was where I found it. We later made a deal with the young students, and one year later, I bought the patent and the rights and today, Sprout is a global company.
Sprout pencils have become a global product. Did you envisage this when you started?
No. I didn’t. to be honest, yes, I thought it was a great idea, considering what sustainability is all about, but I didn’t really think that commercially, it could be such a great venture that it has turned out to be. And today, we are selling in more than 60 countries; last year, we sold more than 1.7 million Sprout Pencils globally and we’ve just seen that the interest is increasing everywhere. People just love the idea that you don’t have to throw it out after you finish using it.
Where is the major market for these pencils?
The United States is a very big market for us and also many countries in Europe, like Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and of course, Denmark, where we are from. But also, we are seeing a growing interest in the Middle East and Africa. We just received some very large orders from both Egypt and South Africa and I am hoping that this will spread to the rest of Africa, including Nigeria.
What do you think is the major challenge in terms of global environmental sustainability?
I see a lot of different challenges but in relation to things that we do, I’ve realized that people are buying a lot of things and they just throw it out once they are done with it and it is a huge waste. So trying to think of ways where products can be reused in a totally different way for a richer purpose will be a great way to improve on the environment.
What seeds are there in the pencils?
We have many seeds and we introduce new seeds all the time. Recently we introduced chilli seeds. We also have those for trees, considering that we use trees for making the woods to make the pencils, so we felt that there is need to grow new trees. Also, we have lot of herbs like basil and thyme, as well as flowers like lavender, sunflower and the likes.
We also have vegetables like cherry and tomato. So the company is always trying to develop new seeds to meet new demands.
So do you have seeds peculiar to specific geographic locations especially now that the market is moving into Africa?
We are looking into that because whenever we enter a new market, we try to look also for seeds peculiar to the local area. For instance, Southern Europe, we have a very popular herb which is commonly used for cooking there. So if we are entering into Africa, we have to look for seeds that are local. So we try to look for what is more suitable for the regions and we are considering that as well in our move to Africa.
Asides from the pencils, what other sustainable products are available at Sprout World?
We have colour pencils which are very popular as well. We also have greetings cards that can be planted as well. We have seeds embedded into the paper, so instead of just throwing the cards away afterwards, you can actually plant them. And we have various other products.
Having brought the patent right for Sprout Pencils, do you still look out for other great ideas out there?
Yes. We constantly work on newer products and we also look around the world, especially for young entrepreneurs with great ideas and we try to either partner or in some cases, we purchase the business that we think can fit well with the Sprout Pencil.
For instance, the plantable card was from the US and we brought it to Denmark. So we are constantly looking for people with great ideas that can fit into Sprout, either as a partnership, or we outrightly buy the product.
What advice do you have for young ecoprenuers out there?
It is one thing to have a very good idea, for instance, the sprout pencil is a great idea right, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have a great team around you. You need to surround yourself with people who know about things that you don’t know about because a great team of people can take even a bad idea very far, but a bad team will never be able to take even a great idea anywhere.
So it is very important to surround yourself with people who are more knowledgeable than you are about different parts of the business.
Culled from Nigerian Tribune, Wednesday, 11th May, 2016