Contest Sows Seeds, Growing Green Business Trees

It always warms the heart to hear about entrepreneurs turning a profit as they protect the environment. And nothing says there's plenty of green to go around as well as eco-businesses that put some into the pockets of the poor. The Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (Seed) Initiative is all about promoting this sort of "business as unusual." A collaboration of inter-governmental organizations, governments, and the private sector, Seed supports innovative entrepreneurial partnerships that deliver real solutions in the field of sustainable development. The Initiative means business — business that improves local community livelihoods and contributes to environmental protection.

Through its Seed Awards contest, the Initiative nurtures start-up seeds that will hopefully grow into super-huggable sustainable enterprise trees. Cows to Kilowatts, one of the previous winners, aims to provide cheap, clean energy to Nigerian households through biogas. Though the importance of biogas as alternative energy in developing nations is not to be underestimated, you might not actually want to get close enough to hug this one. The power source is literally cows, in the form of abattoir waste.Finalists for the 2007 Seed Awards were announced by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), at the World Economic Forum in Davos in late January. The ten finalists hail from ten different developing countries. All offer inspiring examples of exciting, locally-adapted solutions for sustainability — from an eco-tourism endeavor in Brazil to a scheme for marketing Vietnamese medicinal plant products internationally to a Tanzanian alternative fuel production venture. "Future Fuels," the Tanzanian finalist, saves trees by making fuel from wood waste. This year's winners will be announced at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in May, and we're psyched to learn more and watch these seeds take root.

Tags: Africa | Energy | Nigeria | United Nations

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