The race for a $100,000 sustainability prize has just become even tighter. Today the Buckminster Fuller Institute unveiled the seven finalists in the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Recognized as “socially responsible design’s highest award,” the Fuller Challenge seeks working solutions that address humanity’s most pressing problems and is open to applicants of all fields, from architects to scientists around the world. Now in its ninth iteration, the prestigious prize program will award the grand prize winner $100,000 to support the development and implementation of their world-changing project. Hit the jump to see the shortlist of the impressive finalists.
In 2013, Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid ravaged La Montaña, one of the poorest and most marginalized areas of Mexico. Home to over three-quarters of the Mexican state Guerrero’s indigenous population, the beautiful but devastated area struggled to get back on its feet in the wake of mass destruction. Cooperación Comunitaria was founded to radically improve the population’s living conditions with a comprehensive model that begins with community outreach and ends with projects that integrate both local indigenous culture and modern, eco-friendly techniques. One such example is the organization’s program to build affordable and earthquake-resistant homes constructed from local materials.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that between 46 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost every year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. CommuniTree tackles deforestation with a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy that also aims to help turn the tide on poverty and climate change. The project is currently working with thousands of smallholding rural farming families in Nicaragua by providing economic incentives that encourage sustainable land-use change.
PITCHAfrica designed and implemented the Waterbank School, an innovative rain-harvesting school campus model for Africa that comprises education buildings integrated with rainwater harvesting, collection, and filtering systems. By using buildings to collect water rather than female labor, more girls and women are able to attend the Waterbank Schools. The nonprofit says school attendance has risen by at least a quarter, and often as high as 95%.
Canada-based nonprofit The Sentinel Project launched Una Hakika as part of their mission to prevent genocide worldwide. Described as a “hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media,” the Una Hakika project aims to use online and offline measures to empower ordinary citizens in combating misinformation that can lead to violence or genocide. The pilot has helped defused conflict between farmers and herders in Kenya’s Tana Delta and is now being tested in Burma to prove that it can be replicated in different contexts.
The Urban Death Project (UDP) wants to turn corpses into compost as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to burials and cremations. The UDP designed Recomposition centers that would safely decompose dead bodies into nutrient compost. The building would be a hybrid between a public park, funeral home, and memorial space. The first full-scale Recomposition center is slated to pop up in Seattle, Washington.
British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests are rich with resources and life, which is why they’ve become the target of many different interest groups including the government, First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies. In an effort to protect the rainforests, Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions, and Sierra Club BC founded the Rainforest Solutions Project to promote conservation options and economic alternatives to industrial logging. One of their most recent successes is the historic 250-year agreement between different parties to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest.