Piers Fawkes – Trend Forecaster, Founder & Editor-in-chief of Trend Agency & website PSFK.com
In 2012 I think we’re going to see a lot more ‘Social Pairing’. This will be through existing or new social networks where the systems mine members’ profiles and updates and then matches people up based on interests, needs, location. Examples are Crush + Lovely that finds similar people to do activities together or the Swedish farmers co-operative that formed Restdejting to get single people to dine together to eat food that would otherwise be thrown away. Social Pairing won’t only drive green behavior but this trend seems to be creating hyper-efficiencies – where people can connect in a way that would have taken forever before – and also allows the optimized use of products – people can share or use unwanted products. This in turn fosters a feeling of community (geographic or activity based) and further collaboration could follow as a result.
Tafline Laylin – Managing Editor of Green Prophet
All kinds of exciting green things are happening in the Middle East – especially in the Gulf countries. Abu Dhabi in particular is taking enormous strides towards a more sustainable future and I think we can expect to see even more progress throughout 2012. Although Masdar had to scale back its plans for a zero-energy, zero-carbon city, they continue to form crucial partnerships with influential players in the international renewable sector, most recently with the German research institute Fraunhoefer Gesellschaft. As a result of this partnership, Masdar will be re-positioned as the MENA region’s guru of sustainable building materials. Egypt continues to struggle with the aftershocks of revolution, but the American Univeristy of Cairo’s Solar Decathlon team is producing extraordinary work that can easily compete with European colleges – provided they are able to generate the necessary funds to make their way to Spain for the competition later this year. Desertec continues to generate serious waves in Mediterranean countries that have high solarity and wind potential, including Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco. I’m expecting a whole host of new partnerships and projects to emerge from this consortium’s concerted efforts to generate clean energy that Europe will eventually buy. Lebanon’s green design scene has grown leaps and bounds, as has that of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but we really ought to keep an eye on the latter country, which is growing a formidable clean tech sector that is now pressing against the borders of New York City. The recently announced collaboration between the Technion – Israeli Institute of Technology and Cornell University – which result in the NYCTech Campus hub on Roosevelt Island – is very likely to produce Silicon Valley’s first genuine competitor from the United States’ east coast. Finally, as Southern Africa’s most progressive city, it’s no surprise that Cape Town was named the 2014 Design Capital. A source of great pride for increasingly green-minded residents, this status is likely to drive even more green initiatives such as public transportation, green roofs, and sustainable building. All in all, despite turmoil and setbacks, 2012 promises to be a very exciting year for the Middle East and North and South Africa, and we look forward to keeping our fingers on the eco-pulse!