Latin America & the Caribbean Finalists

Maricela Granda

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Use of banana waste to obtain clean water and food

In the Ecuadorian Amazon, when bananas are harvested, significant plant waste is generated (stem, rachis, leaves). These wastes can be used to create an effective biofilter that can remove pollutants from water, including toxic hydrocarbons released by the extractive industry. Thus,  clean water can be recovered to improve the lives of local people. The banana plant waste can also be used as a substrate on which to cultivate edible fungi to enhance food security. The banana is cultivated in several parts of the world, so this idea can be replicated elsewhere. Further more it will generate employment and economic opportunities. I am currently working on the physical and chemical characterization of banana crop residues, specifically the Dominico harton type. I am also isolating strains of edible fungi of the genus Pleurotus as part of my initial investigation.

Ricardo Enrique Alba Torres

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Project Ekomuro H2O + Elaborated with PET Bottles in the Commune 4 Altos de Cazuca

The Ekomuro H2O + project is an innovative rainwater harvesting system, modularly developed using 54 reused 3l plastic bottles which, interconnected, create a vertical pressure resistant water tank occupying a minimum space. We intend to change of attitudes and promote a culture of water saving. By preserving water, people will recognize it as a strategic natural resource that strengthens resilience, reduces water-related risks and vulnerabilities and supports climate change adaptation. In addition, with the reuse of plastic bottles, we will help to raise awareness about the proper disposal of plastic waste in order to mitigate the environmental impacts that they have on our planet.

Gator Halpern

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Coral Vita: Creating land-based coral farms to restore and sustain our world’s coral reefs.

Over 30% of global coral reefs are dead, and more than 75% are projected to die by 2050. This is an ecological tragedy and a serious socio-economic problem, as reefs sustain one-third of all marine life, support ~1B people globally, and generate $30B annually through tourism, fisheries production, and coastal protection. Coral Vita is creating a global network of innovative land-based coral farms, using breakthrough methods developed at the Mote Marine Lab and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology to grow corals up to 50x faster while strengthening their resiliency to climate change. Our land-based farms are scalable, allowing us to potentially grow millions of corals from a single site. Coral Vita’s business model can support restoration at unprecedented scales, and by taking a community-based approach we integrate local actors to promote long-term reef stewardship.

Jose Manuel Moller

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Correcting a Market Failure that Pollutes Chile's Environment & Forces Bottom of the Pyramid Families to Pay Excessive Prices for Life's Essentials

I created Algramo, to be an impactful market-based solution for a major market failure that forces the most marginalized families of Latin America to pay ~30% more for life's essentials - what Algramo calls the "poverty tax". We do this by focusing on lowering the environmental and economic costs of essential products typically consumed by base of pyramid (BoP) families. Our channel of distribution is selling products in reusable containers (with ~US 30-cent deposit) via a network of 1,600+ small family owned neighborhood stores (FONS). In doing this, we foster reusable/recyclable packaging and promote circular economy principles to BoP families. This is critical as most packaging waste leaking into the environment comes from the BoP of emerging markets, and most families in these markets tend to lack an awareness of recycling. Algramo is proud to create and leverage financial savings to motivate environmentally responsible consumption.

Jenifer Colpas

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Baño Grato

Three out of ten people do not have access to sanitation in a world where access to water is scarce and women are violated daily. The Baño Grato project is a solution that seeks to empower rural women to take better care of the environment while improving their personal health and hygiene. Using participatory techniques, the project trains women in good water and sanitation practices, and installs low-cost bathrooms with ecological toilets that save 270,000 liters of water per year and protect water resources. Currently there are 7 prototypes of the project in three rural communities of Colombia. In addition to generating natural fertilizer, the project reduces gastrointestinal and vaginal infections in women, by enabling them to manage their periods and pregnancies with comfort. It also enables women to avoid sexual harassment caused by a lack of private sanitation spaces.