Clean Our
Air Winner

India

Takachar

Globally, we generate $120 billion of agricultural waste every year. What farmers cannot sell, they often burn, with catastrophic consequences for human health and the environment. The burning of agricultural waste causes air pollution that in some areas has reduced life expectancy by a decade.

This plays out every year in the fields surrounding New Delhi. Smoke from man-made infernos fills the air, with serious consequences for the health of locals. One of their number is Vidyut Mohan. His social enterprise, Takachar, is putting out the fire.

Takachar has developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms. The machine converts crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertilizer.

Takachar’s technology reduces smoke emissions by up to 98% which will help improve the air quality that currently reduces the affected population’s life expectancy by up to 5 years. If scaled, it could cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year: a win for India’s farmers will be a win in the fight against climate change.

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Our Finalists

We choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air. Meet the Finalists who are going to help us clean our air with their ground-breaking work.

Clean Our Air Finalists

China

The Blue Map App

Ma Jun saw first-hand the impact of air and water pollution on human and planetary health when he worked for the media. Realising that to fight pollution you first have to measure it, he founded the Blue Map.

Blue Map is China’s first public environmental database, giving citizens the opportunity to use real time data to advocate for change in their communities. Users can check local air and water quality and get real-time pollution data from more than 40,000 factories. Tens of thousands of “micro-reporting” has been filed by Blue Map users against polluting factories and thousands of some of the largest emitters in China have been motivated to openly address their violation records.

With 10 million downloads, Blue Map’s network of concerned citizens becomes part of the multi-stakeholder initiative that is changing China’s cities. Beijing shows the difference it can make. The capital is now making progress toward no longer being among the 200 most polluted cities in the world while continuing to strengthen its economy. The ambition for Blue Map is to empower synergized air pollution and carbon emission reduction in China and then globally.

Blue Map demonstrates the power of transparency and accountability. It also teaches the world a lesson — that clever innovation, combined with public participation, is a recipe for progress.

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Clean Our Air Finalists

India

Vinisha Umashankar

Vinisha Umashankar of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, proves you are never too young to help the environment through innovation. Aged just 14, her solar-powered ironing cart is a clean alternative to the charcoal powered street irons that press clothes for millions of Indians each day.

One day, on the way home from school, Vinisha saw an ironing vendor dumping charcoal in the garbage. Curious, she began researching the impact of charcoal. She saw how smoke causes lung disease among vendors. And she was shocked to learn of the connection between charcoal and deforestation — each year industrial quantities of trees are felled to make charcoal.

Vinisha’s solar powered cart replaces dirty charcoal with clean energy from the sun. Five hours of sunshine powers the iron for six hours – a win for the environment is also a win for vendors. Extra mobility means they can sell on doorsteps as well as the roadside. Built in phone top up and charging points bring extra income too. Overall, the ironing cart helps 13 of the 15 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Passionate about innovation, Vinisha traces her love of science to the encyclopaedia she received on her fifth birthday. It instilled a fascination about how things work – one that intensified as she realised the power of invention to do good.

Vinisha plans to manufacture the solar ironing cart in India and sell it at an affordable price. She wants to export it to Asia, Africa and wherever the sun shines throughout the year. Vinisha’s example shows that by innovating today, the next generation can create a cleaner tomorrow.

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