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Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article that encourages practical, and wholly necessary, steps towards repairing our ecosystems.

This young orphaned monkey looking out at us from the ravaged wasteland behind him is symbolic of the shambles we find ourselves in.

However, many complain that there is still no consensus on what the Green New Deal should comprise of for the planet as a whole, or what should be the biggest investment priorities for fixing this rapidly worsening situation. Also, that terms like “green growth”​ and “ESG”​ and “sustainable finance”​ are all the rage, yet the difference between various terms is confusing at best.

To such commentators, I like to point out a simple framework put forth by Oxford Professor Kate Raworth in what she calls “Doughnut Economics”​.

See the inner ring of the Doughnut? This is the #socialfoundation – below which lies shortfalls in human well-being, massive deprivation as we see in so much of the world today.

And beyond the outer ring of the Doughnut- the Earth’s #ecologicalceiling- lies an overshoot of pressure on our planet’s life-giving systems, through climate change, land conversion, etc.

Thus this is the pressing task facing humanity today- i.e to bring all of humanity into that safe and just space, that sweet spot, between the two rings of the doughnut.

However, incrementalism is not going to cut it.

The argument of the #GreenGrowth advocates is that when GDP grows faster than resource use (through water and energy efficiency measures etc), we can achieve relative decoupling of GDP from ecological impacts. But unfortunately, considering the deepening crisis we are in, it would not be enough to get us all into the ring. So, absolute decoupling will be necessary. Mainly, by:

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting energy supply
  • Circular economy
  • Dematerialized consumption

 

Read the full article, A Simple Framework for Ecosystem Restoration – why we should care and how we should deal, on LinkedIn.

 

 

It’s always interesting to take a look back while stepping forward. In this older post from Supriya Prakash Sen, the use of AI technology in the workplace was explored. How does it compare to today’s outlook?

The news has been awash with provocative articles about the future of jobs in our society. The exponentially advancing nature of Artificially Intelligent machines, after AlphaGo turned out to be a better Go player than any human – combined with the power of the collective mind, makes it an urgent question to debate. There seems to be almost no job or field of endeavor that cannot be disrupted – from routine and manual jobs to non-routine and cognitive jobs, all are now at risk of being replaced by intelligent machines. 

Simple example- the other day I saw a conscious robotic arm in the pharmacy of the hospital, which is already dispensing medicine packages more accurately, efficiently and in a more space-saving way than any human could possibly do. Similarly – robotic arms that sort through waste at landfills are more productive, and also cheaper in the long run, albeit replacing work for humans who sort through garbage (sadly, often the first form of entrepreneurship for the disenfranchised). This raises the question, that maybe humans should let the work be done by machines after all- why fight it – we humans were meant for more higher pursuits anyway? Meanwhile robot bartenders are already employed in ships, see video clip: Robot Bartender on Cruise Ship.

Machine vs. Man was never a fair fight. From cameras and telescopes to ships and airplanes and drones, to the newest generation of “thinking” computers- there are hardly any jobs that machines cannot do better than humans.In fact, recent advances in technology and networked intelligence can lead to massive changes in entire societies, in the space of less than a generation. For just a small instance, look merely at what Fitbit can accomplish through scale and peer-pressure – rippling through an entire population, changing habits and behaviors in a relatively short period of time- and compare this with the impact a Personal Trainer can have with one client in a long set of focused one-on-one interactions.

 

Key points include:

  • Extending human capability
  • Universal basic income
  • Virtual rewards replace money

 

Read the full article, The Power and the Fear – Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Jobs and Society, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares a pertinent reminder on big picture problems that we all face, and offers a solution that could be a small step in financing but a leap towards a sustainable future.

In the midst of a pandemic, the past year has been chilling at best, and a nightmare at the worst of times. However, we are lucky to be alive. Now, as vaccines get rolled out, it remains for the survivors to pick up the pieces, mourn our dead, brush off the crumbs of our past and move ahead into trying to cobble a more sustainable future.

This week, with all of us still being holed up at home, I thought it would be a good idea to make a visit to the Singapore Zoo, the River Safari and the Night Safari – where we haven’t been in years. My love of animals and wild life is tempered with the sadness from knowing I may be the last generation to actually see any of this in the wild. The shrinking habitats, the splintering of these habitats (one lonely tiger can hardly go and find his mate across the void to the next one), and the absolute filthy pollution by humans and garbage makes it almost inevitable that the last few majestic animals can only be found in a zoo.

The same is true of every other habitat- whether it is our marshlands, swamps, oceans, freshwater rivers, or frozen icelands. Every species, from reptilian to mammal to bird, is being nudged off the face of this earth by our insatiable appetite for more, more, more!

On the other hand, our #instagram generation is so good at making new concepts like Cat Cafes etc…and the business of “Humanizing pets” is actually a theme, getting VC $ and many shiny new startups to exploit this new trend. This just goes to show, that humans are not all selfish; most do appreciate the innocence of animals in our lives. We just don’t pause to do anything about it.

 

Key points include:

  • restoring the ecological balance, one settlement at a time
  • the overlay of culture, habits, skills, behaviors to ensure this is not in vain
  • the economics, the financing, and the incentives so it stays that way

 

Read the full article, Urgent Need to Restore Lost Wildlands, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Keeping the resolution to be healthier, fitter, and more environmentally conscious is made easy in Supriya Prakash Sen’s vision for cities of the future. Strap up your boots and take a leap of faith towards a brighter future.

Walkability can be a financially savvy strategy! Research has shown that designing a city for Walkability yields benefits in terms of the environment, social cohesiveness, health benefits for an ageing society- but what is new is that it can also be an economically astute strategy. Knowledge workers want to live, work and play downtown, where they can raise families in healthy environments and maximize their creativity. Financing tools like value capture finance and yield cos can help engineer this change by providing a structure that will draw investors, corporations and private partners into the project in a cohesive way. This week, in Hong Kong’s Walk 21 conference, I had opportunity to describe some tools and frameworks that can be useful for doing this. But as I emphasized – there’s more to it than this.

While innovative financial tools and public private partnerships are important to make sure that the right infrastructure is implemented, social change needs more than a set of financial tools and techniques bolted on to a fundamentally warped way of thinking that doesn’t fit the new reality. In other words, engendering large-scale behavior change in our societies will also need a bottom-up, paradigm shift in mindsets. It’s such a waste of potential if the cities of developing Asia continue to be strangled by the self-serving, bureaucracy-led, corruption-ridden real estate development methods which have brought them to their present sad state of affairs.

 

Key points include:

  • Zero-carbon cities
  • Efficient, equitable and enduring cities of tomorrow
  • Hong Kong Walk 21

 

Read the full article, Walkability as the new source of competitive advantage for cities, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article that identifies how Digital Business Ecosystems could be the answer to addressing the multiple needs of the consumer, and how COVID-19 has accelerated the need to change.

As purchasing behaviors change over time, so too does the landscape that solution providers operate in. In 2020, consumers are spoilt for choice; but consumers are short on time and often overwhelmed by the options on offer. Consequently, the balance of power for businesses has shifted in favor of those who can provide a seamless, curated service, that offers customers Value, Choice and Delightful Experience- meeting not one but their multiple needs. Companies in South East Asia have begun to recognize the importance of meeting these consumers’ new and diverse needs under one single umbrella.

This means that the arena is ripe for successful introduction of services embedded within Digital Business Ecosystems. A digital business ecosystem is an environment of digital platforms with a complex network of stakeholders that connect online to do business and interact digitally in ways that create value for all. And instead of concentrating on linear supplier, customer, and distributor relationships, these companies focus on adding value in new ways to how each party in the ecosystem can bring value to the other parties.

In this context, Singapore has much to contribute to the South East Asia region in human capital even as we meet our own ecosystem buildout needs. It is possible to design intentionally for how our companies, solution providers as well as foreign companies within our digital business ecosystem can be a potent force for good within the larger South East Asia region. One example of this, as I point out later in this article, is AFIN-APIX, the innovative fintech collaboration platform set up as a non-profit in Singapore (where I am an independent Director).

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Collaboration between players
  • Reaching a broader customer base
  • Platform business models

 

Read the full article, Collaborating to Succeed: Evolving Digital Financial Ecosystems in SEA, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article on the issue of consumerism and waste generation within the current capitalist-driven economy; the article also outlines steps that can be taken to improve sustainability. 

Looking at the stock market’s valuation of some of the world’s top brands- (see the below graphic from visualcapitalist.com) already, there is a distinct valuation difference between those brands that are promoting dematerialized (virtual) products and services vis a vis those with physical products. Even for the latter category we believe (and hope) that there will ultimately be a premium for those who curb their propensity for populating the planet with overmuch packaging and waste generation. Those brands that know the true meaning of sustainability and are able to add true value at a price that the consumer can afford, while still accurately reflecting the price of their production (and waste generation), will be the winners of tomorrow. As the world wakes up to the true cost of the industrial model- knowing that you can throw away but there is no ‘away’.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Digitization
  • Disruption
  • Demonetization
  • Dematerialization
  • Democratization

 

Read the full article, A New Model for Consumerism, on LinkedIn.

 

 

In this article, Supriya Prakash Sen identifies the priorities that can help put our world back together post COVID-19 and ensure we continue to survive the impending effects of climate change.

Solving the Covid-19 crisis should not come at the expense of the Climate. This is a post about why we should solve for the impending Climate Emergency in designing our new world post-pandemic – and the actions that we need to take before it is too late.

Many of the finest economic and regulatory minds are now collectively debating as to how to produce or build ‘more’ of everything (from masks to medicines to consumer and capital goods and services) in order to make sure we can go back as a society to “business as usual”, or the times of pre-Covid.

Risk perception is seen to be at an all time high- with income inequality, nationalism, politicization and financialization all adding to the unholy mix. Faced with prospects of subdued demand, supply chain disruption, credit defaults and unprecedented unemployment, the biggest fear is of ‘de-growth’.

 

Key points include:

  • Reconstructing the economic model with cognizance of the Climate Emergency
  • Green economic stimulus framework
  • 5 immediate and major business, economic, societal shifts

 

Read the full article, Priorities for Putting back putting back together our world post-Covid19, on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen takes a look ahead at one industry that is growing fast in the face of a heating planet, and how we can address and reconcile the needs of both the consumer and the environment. 

Last week, I wrote this article about the worrying prospects if governments, policy makers, corporations and the public at large, fail to prioritize the climate in the hurry to get things “back to normal”. Except that this is a new normal – and there is no “going back” to the old, if humanity is to survive/thrive beyond 2050. The gravity of the problem is well stated elsewhere, so I would refrain from repeating it here. But we should be ambitious when building back after this crisis, to build back better.

Many industries stand to benefit from the transition to a new, sustainable, low-carbon normal. As we fundamentally rethink things, it is possible to design for sustainability while still generating plenty of new local jobs. One such industry is the rather overlooked $134 billion p.a Cooling industry.

Global lockdowns have fundamentally changed the structure of energy demand. Right now, offices and commercial buildings are mostly shut or sparsely populated, but distributed cooling devices are working overtime, with a sharp rise in the use of building air conditioners, domestic fridges/ freezers. Meanwhile, there is also ramped up demand for cooling from agri & medical cold- chains, healthcare facilities, data centres etc.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Devoting resources to intelligent energy system design
  • Insisting on better designed buildings and precincts
  • Driving locally-adapted innovative solutions in devices and materials

 

Read the full article, Post-Covid19, the New “Cool”​ on LinkedIn.

 

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Supriya Sen with Singapore Management Consulting.  Supriya has spent five years as a Senior Advisor in the banking and infrastructure practice at McKinsey (since 2015). Prior to McKinsey, she was an advisor and investor in infrastructure project and climate finance where she worked with multilateral, commercial bank and private equity investor clients in India, China, South East Asia and Middle East.

Supriya has particular expertise in digital finance, public private partnership initiatives and platform economics in the context of smart cities. She has been involved in major transformations within banking & financial services, energy and transportation, as well as health and education sectors. She lives in Singapore. Supriya is happy to collaborate on projects in Asia and the Middle East