Daily Archives: February 3, 2020

A Foundation Built on Oil Embraces the Green Revolution | WIRED


Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah wants to build a bridge between science and technology and the world’s least fortunate.Photograph: Roger L. Wollenberg/Alamy

In a WIRED Q&A, Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah calls on tech companies to help in fighting the world’s inequities.

Rajiv Shah is president of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest philanthropies, founded by oil baron John D. Rockefeller in 1913. President of the foundation since 2017, Shah previously was administrator of the US Agency for International Development, and held several posts at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He met recently with WIRED editors and reporters and discussed the foundation’s efforts to bring solar mini-grids to India, using health data to prevent childbirth deaths, and the need for science-based public policy. An edited transcript follows:

Wired: Some people may be surprised to hear the Rockefeller Foundation talking about tech. So can you talk a little about your interest in tech?

Rajiv Shah: Our basic approach is we try to look to the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation and figure out how they can be applied to deal with some of the greatest inequities in the world. And so we work very hard to be a bridge between companies and innovators and technologists and scientists, and those who are least fortunate. That’s why we’re here. It’s why we’ve launched major public-private partnerships with some of these companies to help address energy poverty around the world, to help save millions of mothers and children who die of preventable causes of death in resource-poor settings, to transform the way we produce food in Africa and deal with diabetes in America. We really believe technology and technology companies can play a tremendous role to make the world more equitable and crack open opportunity for people who are vulnerable. But we also think that those wonderful companies don’t always get it right on their own and a tried and true 106-year-old institution like the Rockefeller Foundation can be a partner that helps them figure out how to actually have positive impact as opposed to just, you know, talk about it in a press release.

W: Is there someplace where you’ve made progress through one of those partnerships?

RS: I think it’s in India right now. We just launched a $1 billion joint venture with Tata and Sons, one of India’s largest companies, to roll out 10,000 solar mini-grids, which are solar platforms connected to energy storage, batteries tied to computer systems that manage the battery and energy process, and link to smart meters. We’re going to bring power and energy to 25 million people that live in the dark effectively. We know 80 percent of our customers are small businesses. It’ll be an engine of job growth for communities where people live on less than $2 a day.

I had a chance to see firsthand just six, eight weeks ago, the transformational power of bringing electricity to places that effectively don’t have it. It’s frankly all enabled by a constellation of technologies, including lithium-ion batteries, smart meters that allow you to shut off or turn on electricity to a customer remotely, and AI and machine learning that allows you to run these systems from from afar, so you don’t have to staff them out in rural Bihar, places that are pretty remote. So that’s an effort we’re replicating in Africa. We actually are rolling out on 5,000 critical care facilities in Puerto Rico. I think we really want to be a bridge between companies that have the potential to help electrify the world’s bottom billion or 2 billion and the communities that deeply need that technology solution and energy access to rise.

W: Are you working with any US tech giants?

RS: I wouldn’t say tech giants, but in Puerto Rico we have engagements with Sunrun. We’ve been working in Puerto Rico for two years. And then we have a huge effort in health that probably this spring will announce some things with real tech giants like Google, and others but in health. As opposed to just collecting cardiac data on your Apple Watch for super rich people jogging, we’re trying to bring those technologies to some of the most resource-poor settings in the world. There are 6 million children each year who die under the age of five, of very simple causes: malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, something called birth asphyxia when you can’t breathe in the first 24 hours of life, and something called neonatal sepsis, basically infection early in life. We think we can prevent almost all of those deaths by targeting high risk families and high risk pregnancies and getting them appropriate critical care visits during their pregnancy and making sure they’re connected to a healthcare system. So we work around the world in resource poor settings to help bring predictive analytics to the task. And if we can identify a high risk woman before she’s pregnant and get her connected to the health system, you can dramatically reduce the mortality and morbidity of childbirth and its consequences.

“We really believe technology and technology companies can play a tremendous role to make the world more equitable.”

Rajiv Shah, president, Rockefeller Foundation

And that’s really cool. You’re with these workers, who are usually called community health workers and there are 5 million of them in countries around the world. They literally will carry around books of logs they have to keep of, “I went to this house and got this child vaccines,” or “I went to that house and told the mother about safe nutrition practices.” And they send all that up the chain, but they never get anything back. And the books are heavy, believe it or not, which is their biggest complaint, because they’re walking in a village from home to home with a bunch of books. And we’re converting that onto a smartphone app system. And with the app, they can basically get a route map like a UPS driver. The route map can be informed by who’s a higher risk pregnancy and who’s not. So you can triage the limited outreach you have.

Responding to the Climate Emergency: Technology or Ecosystem based Approach? – William Moomaw

January 30, 2020

CIERP Founder and Fletcher School Professor Emeritus, Bill Moomaw, discussed how letting our trees grow, or ‘proforestation’ can effectively combat the climate emergency. Professor Moomaw spoke to an audience of over 80 people – students, faculty, community members – at the Cheryl A. Chase Center at Tufts University on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Prof. Moomaw also delved into the various technological approaches that companies and policy makers have considered to combat the emergency, and briefly informed the crowd about his time at COP 25 in Madrid, Spain.

Further copy of slides

Contact information:

William Moomaw
Emeritus Professor of International Environmental Policy
Center for International Environment and Resource Policy
Co-Director Global Development and Environment Institute
Tufts University

See related presentations and papers:


These young Brooklyn farmers grow nutritious greens in shipping containers | Pioneers For Our Planet

World Economic Forum

Jan 29, 2020

Square Roots are teaching young people how to farm sustainably. This film was shot in 2018. Since then, Square Roots has developed its own technology specifically tailored to its model and has evolved its Next-Gen Farmer Training Program, finding new and innovative ways to grow local food and support young people entering the urban farming industry.

Watch more videos in our award-winning series, in collaboration with @WWF #Netflix #ShareOurPlanet #VoiceForThePlanet

About the series: Each week we’ll bring you a new video story about the people striving to restore nature and fighting climate change. In collaboration with @WWF and the team behind the Netflix documentary #OurPlanet. #ShareOurPlanet

Want to raise your #VoiceForThePlanet? Life on Earth is under threat, but you can help. People around the world are raising their voice in support of urgent action. Add yours now at www.voicefortheplanet.org.

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.



Jane Goodall on why planting trees is so important | Ways to Change the World

World Economic Forum

Feb 3, 2020
her career studying chimps in Gombe, Tanzania. Her work changed the way we see chimps forever

But when she returned to Gombe 30 years after her first visit, she was shocked to see it had been stripped of most of its trees. An island of forest surrounded by completely bare hills, with people struggling to survive.

Thanks to Goodall’s innovative Roots & Shoots scheme, thousands of kids around the world are planting trees, encouraging children to volunteer in nature.

Now, Goodall’s taking her reforesting mission to the next level, joining the global movement to plant and protect 1 trillion trees.

Scientists say that natural solutions could provide a third of the emissions reductions needed by 2030.

About the series: Every week we’ll bring you a new video story on the entrepreneurs, companies and countries changing our planet for the better. Check back every Monday for a new video on the incredible people changing our world.

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.

Brian DiMambro – Antiquarian Book Dealer – 18th Century Atlas

Brian DiMambro Antiquarian

Feb 3, 2020

Laurie Garrett on How Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Democracy Now!

Published on Feb 3, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, the United States has declared a public health emergency and is barring foreign nationals who have recently traveled to China from entering the country. So far, there are 11 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. The virus has claimed at least 361 lives in China. A 44-year-old man in the Philippines became the first casualty of the disease outside of China Saturday, and over the weekend the number of confirmed cases worldwide rose to at least 17,205 across more than two dozen countries, with most of those cases occurring in China. U.S. citizens who have visited Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will be quarantined when re-entering the country. Questions are being raised about the handling of the disease by Chinese authorities, who critics say delayed their response and downplayed the severity of the problem. The local Red Cross in Hubei has also come under fire for failing to distribute essential medical supplies to the hospitals which need it most. Meanwhile, Chinese and Asian communities in countries including France and Canada say they have been the target of increased racism because of the outbreak. We speak to Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer