Innovators Honored for Applying Technology To Brighten People’s Lives

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suryaBoats outfitted with solar panels have become “floating classrooms” for children in the low-lying regions of Bangladesh, where floods have destroyed crops, schools, roads and infrastructure. They are among the more than 20 million people who became displaced last year due to climate change. In the past decade, Bangladesh has experienced 70 climate-related natural disasters. In its rural areas, 81% of people have no electricity, relying instead on kerosene hurricane lanterns.

But now, the social entrepreneur group Surya Hurricane: Electrification for the Landless, is helping retrofit lanterns with CFL (compact fluorescent) and LED lights, that can be recharged with excess electricity generated by PV modules on the school boats. The new solar lighting is durable, mobile, alleviates the health problems caused by smoke from the traditional lanterns and reduces CO2 emissions. The lanterns are recharged using excess electricity generated by PV modules on the school boats. Local women, whose communities have been devastated by flooding, charge villagers $.07 USD for the service, generating a much needed additional source of income.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha who launched the innovative program, was one of 15 individuals honored today by The Tech Awards for applying technology to address the most critical issues facing our planet and its people.

Karen Turner, Director of USAID’s Office of Development Partners, spoke about the need to support innovators from emerging economies, connecting them to resources and markets. Turner described the new approach by the Obama administration which emphasizes openness and dialog to build networks, collaborate for the greater good and create transparent, participatory partnerships that empower people to share new ideas and incubate high-impact, low-cost solutions that benefit humanity. She referred to President Obama’s recent remarks that “the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by — it’s whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.”

Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore was also recognized for raising awareness about climate change. He received the 2009 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award given to individuals whose vision and leadership help to build a just, humane and sustainable world.

Dev has helped some of the world’s leading organizations to positively impact the world. She uses experiential and emerging media to engage and inspire people to action. As Chief Strategist for Luminesa, she guides companies on profitably integrating corporate responsibility strategies into core business practices and marketing efforts.Dev has held senior executive positions, developed profitable business ventures and led marketing initiatives for National Audubon, Marvel Entertainment, UBS, Prodigy, IBM, Fashion-Forward, Sustainable Energy Partners, Hanson Bridgett, Green Mountain, CoolOffSets and Wells Fargo. She has led social and environmental initiatives for multi-national companies that have transformed their reputation and performance. She has built popular brands, designed innovative products and produced award-winning promotional campaigns. Dev spearheaded the Bay Area Sustainability Initiative, helping corporations to improve their impact on local ecosystems; Net Impact NorCal: Professionals for Responsible Business, an influential regional network of 1600 MBA professionals and students; and LEEDing the Way.Dev speaks and writes regularly about responsible business, values-driven leadership and positive marketing. She serves on the board of Blended Business and advises local municipalities on how to implement climate action plans. Dev holds an MBA with a concentration in sustainability from Presidio School of Management, where she was part of the first graduating class. She is an avid hiker and a seascape photographer.

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