25 episodes

The world needs to shift to a new paradigm, but what is stopping us and how can we do this? In 2015, 193 world leaders signed up to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable world by the year 2030. We have the technology, we have the people and if we have the money but can we make this target? Romi Sumaria and Aarti Shah explore some of the biggest challenges that we face to meet these goals, share the real stories of what is being done on the ground and speak to inspiring individuals and organisations that are leading the way in delivering impact.

The Oblique Life Global Goals The Oblique Life

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 16 Ratings

The world needs to shift to a new paradigm, but what is stopping us and how can we do this? In 2015, 193 world leaders signed up to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable world by the year 2030. We have the technology, we have the people and if we have the money but can we make this target? Romi Sumaria and Aarti Shah explore some of the biggest challenges that we face to meet these goals, share the real stories of what is being done on the ground and speak to inspiring individuals and organisations that are leading the way in delivering impact.

    S02E06: Access to Clean Water

    S02E06: Access to Clean Water

    Whether it is New York City, Mexico City or Ho Chi Minh City, enabling equitable access to clean drinking water, and adequate drainage and storm run-off must overcome multiple challenges.
    Burgeoning urban populations need increasing amounts of water, but the changing climate is impacting primary sources. “What we have considered sustainable water management for decades is untenable when we consider continuing pressures on supply and quality,” Dr Anna Robuck warns us. Enrique Iomnitz explains the “perverse” vicious cycle of Mexico’s leaky grid. As in many Global South cities, supplying water intermittently reduces water loss, but when the flow stops, the pressure causes even more leaks - exacerbated by earthquakes.
    Regenerative systems operate on a circular budget with more limited releases of water than the linear model industrialised countries are accustomed to. Enabling safe regeneration - even beyond consumer servicing - requires upgraded infrastructure, and also trust. Balancing safety with sustainability is a challenge even in the United States, where policies do not take into account the slew of chemicals pouring out of households, farming and industry. Governance and funding are often key differentiators between the Global North and South, but cities such as Lingyuan in China are leading the way.
    The new generation of solutions need to treat water at a lower energy and chemical cost. The ‘sponge city’ concept and retaining increasingly heavy rains are starting to be taken on. To scale and speed up solutions, academics need to collaborate more closely with the private sector and governments. Local community engagement and education, public private partnerships and new distributed marketplaces for the commercial sector, as demonstrated by Romain Joly and Enrique Iomnitz’s enterprises, must also be integrated. 

    Dr. Anna Robuck, Researcher, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiEnrique Lomnitz, Co-Founder & Director, Isla UrbanoRomain Joly, CEO at O-We Water Vietnam & Director of business development at 1001fontaines

    • 1 hr 5 min
    S02E05: Feeding Our Cities

    S02E05: Feeding Our Cities

    Today, urban dwellers are removed from food production, which has widened the gulf between cities and rural areas. Convenience has led to an over-abundance of food, but it is not equitably distributed. Nor is it necessarily healthy. Cooking and eating collectively have also dwindled, and conspicuous consumption has become fashionable. Significant disruptions can make bringing food to cities challenging.
    No change is free, and some can have unintended consequences, but our speakers offer some compelling solutions.
    Schools must offer experiential education in regenerative, circular agriculture, so that from an early age we understand and appreciate the value of food, and how our choices matter.Technology and data should be used to help make food systems more resource-efficient. There are solutions such as halophytic agriculture and biomimicry.Policy has to be inclusive, so that we all have access to nutritious, tasty food. That means thinking about seeds, greenhouses, transport, waters, wet markets and supermarkets. Governments can learn from Paris and incentivise rooftop farming. They can encourage community gardens and biogesters, promote healthy diets and monitor non-communicable diseases. We look at the different approaches in cities as diverse as Ghent and Quito.

    Speakers:Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder & CEO, AgritectureAlessandro Parades, EVP of Agriculture, Vidaluz DevelopmentNataly Pinto, Director, Latin America, Rikolto

    • 54 min
    S02E04: Power of Entrepreneurship

    S02E04: Power of Entrepreneurship

    To start with the obvious, entrepreneurship means thinking out of the box and presenting commercially viable solutions. In the 21st century, urban entrepreneurship must be about relocating the planet’s resources to where they are needed, and keeping them in the system for as long as possible.
    Secondly, policy is mandatory to enable and scale up innovation and entrepreneurship, but where there are gaps, as Beatrice Hati said, don't wait. Kick-start your idea and choose the moment to bring in policymakers.
    Next, cities are often the most diverse parts of any country - and entrepreneurship must reflect that. If policies, individuals and investments are not intentionally inclusive, as Rafia Qureshi stressed, we are not going to get different types of support reaching the right people. We are also never going to get the right products designed.
    Finally, solutions need to be scalable, and urban disruptors need to keep one step ahead if they are to remain relevant. While entrepreneurship can appear to be lonely, some of our big ticket problems can only be tackled through collaboration, as Damarys Zampini and Beatrice said. Our cities are fast changing, as are people’s needs and aspirations - from access to public spaces to the best healthcare and beyond.
    Beatrice Hati, Urban Coordinator, International Center for Frugal Innovation (ICFI)Damarys Zampini, CEO, SustrategyRafia Qureshi, Chief Strategy Officer, Lebec Consulting

    • 1 hr 2 min
    S02E03: Technology and Cities

    S02E03: Technology and Cities

    Information and telecommunications infrastructure is our most recent urban amenity. Today, wireless voice, data and Internet connectivity and increasingly digital transmission are enabling new types of economic and community interaction. In this episode, we discuss how information and communications technology (ICT) can shape the urban environment, and how cities can create opportunities for ICT.
    To quote Dr Maria Lema, the ‘Smart City’ should be one which “improves efficiency and provides a better quality of life for all citizens.” For this, we need to address challenges, from a lack of standardisation and processes, to lagging infrastructure and domineering telecoms providers, to technology negatively impacting the climate. Digital infrastructure and technologies must be accessible and affordable if they are to create employment opportunities, improve quality of life, and manage resources for all.
    Data is what makes a city smart. It helps optimise - and even democratise - services such as transport and healthcare. 5G, with its lower cost of ownership, is changing the way cities operate. A local authority can provide services without relying on traditional network operators. Through artificial intelligence, as Briana Brownell states, there could be fundamental changes in how we live our lives from birth, but citizens must be engaged so that they are able to have agency. This is starting to change. In all these areas, policy and financing need to be strategic, and mindful of the contexts in which the technology operates.
    In summary, when deployed well, ICT enables cities to make judicious use of the planet’s resources and creates new, equitable social and economic openings and interactions.

    Briana Brownell, CEO,  Pure Strategy Inc.Dr Maria Lema, Co-Founder, Weaver Labs

    • 54 min
    S02E02: Re-Imagining Governance

    S02E02: Re-Imagining Governance

    In episode 2, we focus on re-inventing governance for urban ecosystems of the 21st century through the cities of Rotterdam and Mumbai.
    Bas Boorsma speaks about our undergoing a transition - from the hollowing out of the middle class to a complex digital transformation that is creating new employment opportunities, and eliminating old ones. The transition is also about actively engaging, preparing and motivating citizens from diverse backgrounds. 
    We discuss what types of structures and policies enable regeneration and inclusivity. Streamlining and collaboration within government are needed, but so is partnership with broader society. Power should be devolved as close as possible to city residents, as long as it comes with the capacity and funding for it to be effective. Even where power is fractured across different levels of government, as is the case of Mumbai, democratic legitimacy should come through a bottom-up citizen participatory approach commingled with more traditional top-down instruments. Design-led technology can contribute to this.
    The Covid-19 pandemic has made the government - and the middle classes - realise “the city works on the shoulders of migrants”, to quote Dr Anita Patil-Deshmukh. Shocks such as this may impact policy. More generally, though, we must be more nimble. While self-governance has a role, start-ups and scale-ups on the ground hold important insights. Regulators can support innovators while protecting what is best and fairest for society at large.  “Agile is one of those magic ingredients for preparing our cities for our next phase of transition and success,” says Bas.

    https://decidim.org/ - free open-source participatory democracy platform for cities and organizationshttp://pukar.org.in/Speakers:
    Bas Boorsma, Chief Digital Officer,  City of RotterdamDr Anita Patil-Deshmukh, Executive Director, PUKAR: Youth & Urban Knowledge, Urbanism, Research Programme, Barefoot Researchers

    • 1 hr
    Special: Meet The Charity Partners

    Special: Meet The Charity Partners

    For the second season of The Oblique Life Global Goals we have decided to support four organisations (1001 Fontaines, Eleven Campaign, Nula and Sina) that we believe are doing important and impactful work to help reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Every episode we will select one of these partners and donate either £100 or $100 for every 100 listeners that download the episode.

    In this episode we speak with these organisations to learn a little more about the work they are doing, understand why they started and also what they hope to achieve.

    Rosemary O'Mahony, Chair of Board of Trustees at 1001 FontainesKyriakos Kyriakopoulos and Mihalis Monemvasiotis, Founders at Eleven CampaignCharlotte Horler, Founder at NulaEtiene Salborn, Founder at SINA

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Vahan A ,


Summarising such important and challenging issues are never an easy task. This gives you a glimpse of the conversation being had today with real experts offering their insights. A must for anyone interested in understanding our world just that little bit more, or trying to bring some positive change one word at a time.

Alice_peretie ,

Something different

Very very interesting speakers that often bring in a variety of perspectives to a topic that has often been talked about many many times. If you think you know overconsumption and sustainability issues within production and consumerism, think again! This podcasts addresses such topics with an honest and more importantly inter-disciplinary approach that isn’t just refreshing, it’s thought provoking !

sharan.beinspired ,

Must listen!

Fantastic podcast and super informative! Gives you a great perspective and something to think about. Highly recommend!

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