Three decades ago, the notion of climate change seemed like a polar story that occurred in the remotest corners of the planet, generally illustrated by the image of a glacier disappearing in the middle of an inhospitable vastness. Today, however, the ravages of global warming have spread their tentacles, permeating every corner of the Earth with their string of extreme weather events: scorching heat waves, uncontrollable wildfires, unrelenting droughts, raging storms and cruel floods that have topped the list of natural disasters in recent years. As António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stated last week in New York: “Humanity has opened the gates of hell.”
However, in the midst of this calamity, all is not lost. Avoiding a further increase in temperatures calls for human creativity and the appropriate use of technology. That is precisely what we sought to highlight in the third edition of the Retina ECO 2023 Awards, organized by Retina in collaboration with Capgemini, delivered this Monday in a ceremony presided over by Queen Letizia. Among more than 70 innovative ideas that emerged in 2022, the five award-winning projects are distinguished by their impact on sustainability, their contribution to the fight against climate change, and their relevance in the technological field and in social issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations Sustainable Development (SDG). Because innovation will be key to the challenges we face as a society, said Teresa Ribera, Third Vice President of the Government and Acting Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge. “We have enormous challenges to ensure that the gates of hell do not open or that if they have opened, we are able to close them.”
In that mixture of not knowing if it is fiction or reality, there are enough facts and data that give us a chill. “We live through summer days that have left us overwhelmed, in cities where it seemed like we were cooking. We experienced dramatic floods with terrible images, like those in Libya and Greece. We are experiencing fires like those in Canada or Hawaii,” explained Ribera, at the closing of the awards ceremony held at the Real Fábrica de Tapices. Against this backdrop, ambition and action on sustainability issues are decisive, and this is exactly what was revealed in the award-winning initiatives this year.
For example, Efficientheating (an initiative of Aimplas, the Plastics Technological Institute, which has had financial support from the Agència Valenciana de la Innovació) which consists of a recyclable radiant heating system, which has been recognized as a winning project in the Efficient Consumption category. Or the IA4BAT—launched by Capital Energy together with Red.es and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)—and which is committed to reused batteries as solar energy storage. These devices connect to the grid and are based on an energy management system that uses artificial intelligence, which is why they won the Green Generation award. “The award-winning projects have achieved excellence, applying innovation in sustainability,” said Pilar Gil, vice president of Prisa. “Innovation and sustainability, together with climate change, are issues of utmost interest in the global dialogue as has been made clear at the United Nations summit.”
“The Retina ECO Awards help make visible the work of companies in their fight against climate change. These projects are real, projects that have a measurable impact,” highlighted Luis Abad, CEO of the Capgemini Group in Spain. Like that of the Madrid Municipal Transport Company (EMT), which won the award in the Sustainable Mobility category thanks to its commitment to the decarbonization of public transport in the capital, which includes the elimination of the diesel fleet, the increase of the electric bus fleet or the upcoming introduction of fuel cell buses powered by H2. Or the initiative of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Iberia, which has won the award in the Sustainable Ecosystem category, due to its efficient water management plan and improvement of the quality of life in hydraulic basins. Also noteworthy is the Solar Cover project, the winning SME in the Innovation in Sustainability category, which has promoted the installation of a megabattery in the textile company TexAthenea, which allows the energy previously obtained through solar panels to be stored.
But despite these efforts in innovation, there is still a large gap to close. According to Abad, from the Capgemini Group in Spain, there is a large gap between long-term ambition and the operations and actions carried out on issues related to sustainability. “Sustainability is already integrated into the strategic agenda of companies, but it is also true that few companies are taking it into operating models,” he claimed.
A prestigious jury made up of the Secretary of State for Digitalization and AI, Carme Artigas, participated in the selection of the winning companies; the Secretary of State for Energy, Sara Aagesen; the director of Industry, Energy, Environment and Climate of CEOE, Cristina Rivero; the CEO of Capgemini Spain, Luis Abad; the Director of Sustainability of the PRISA Group, Rosa Junquera; the director of Retina, Jaime García Cantero, and the global director of Responsible Banking at Banco Santander, Lara de Mesa. The general director of Information Systems and Innovation of Ferrovial-CIIO, Dimitris Bountolos, also participated in the selection of the winners; the director of the extraordinary chair of Social Transformation at the UCM, Begoña Gómez; the founder and president of Fundación Open Value and Global Social Impact Investments, María Ángeles León, and the head of Human Rights in the Value Chain of Inditex, María Morell.
The awards ceremony was attended by Joseph Oughourlian, president of Prisa; Carlos Núñez, president and CEO of Prisa Media; Pedro Rollán Ojeda; Francina Armengol, president of the Congress of Deputies, and Reyes Maroto, spokesperson for the PSOE in the Madrid City Council.
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