Addressing Earth Overshoot Day With Collaborative Innovation

By Gabriella Anesio

Posted on

Earth Overshoot Day is the date each year when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year. It’s a way of illustrating the concept of “overshoot,” which occurs when our ecological footprint surpasses the planet’s biocapacity – the ability of natural systems to renew resources and absorb waste.

This year, the overshoot date was yesterday, on the 2nd of August. Calculated each year by the Global Footprint Network, this day serves as a stark reminder that we are depleting the planet’s resources faster than they can be replenished, contributing to issues like deforestation, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and more.

In this blog, we’ll look at how we can leverage crowdsourcing  to combat these issues, specifically in the lens of transitioning to a circular economy. 

Collaborative Innovation: Uniting for a Sustainable Future 

When it comes to finding novel solutions for some of the world’s most pressing issues, several factors need to be taken into account. For example, these risks that reside at the global scale require diverse thinking due to their sheer complexity, lack of linearity, and overlapping knowledge from different disciplines – which is where crowdsourcing comes in. 

Crowdsourcing offers a powerful and innovative approach to addressing these risks, especially within the context of the circular economy. The interconnected nature of the world requires collaborative innovation efforts to tackle complex challenges such as environmental degradation and resource depletion.

Crowdsourcing leverages the collective intelligence of a diverse and distributed global community, enabling the identification of novel solutions, breakthrough innovations, and effective strategies to mitigate risks. In the context of the circular economy, crowdsourcing can harness the creativity and expertise of individuals from various disciplines, cultures, and regions to propose innovative circular models, sustainable production processes, and waste reduction techniques.

Tapping into the global crowd with Wazoku

Enel, a multinational energy company, partnered with Wazoku to tap into a global crowd of change makers in order to help solve some of their toughest Challenges. Having launched over 50 open innovation Challenges with Wazoku, Enel has received several thousand innovation submissions for various Challenges run. One of Enel’s primary sustainability focuses is transitioning to a circular economy, which has, therefore, also been a recurring topic throughout the Challenges. 

By pursuing the Open Innovation space alongside Wazoku, Enel has received multiple innovative solutions that address this transition towards a circular economy. For example, one of the winning Solvers for an Ideation Challenge proposed an innovative way to produce insulating materials (such as glass wool) by using recycled blade material. This dynamic approach has enabled Enel to tap into a rich pool of global knowledge and collaborative innovation, driving exploration of sustainable practices, innovative technologies, and novel business models that propel the transition to a circular economy. 

The Power of Collective Wisdom: the Climate CoLab

With over 120,000 participants from 170 countries, the Climate CoLab (which became a part of Wazoku in 2022) is a platform that epitomizes crowdsourcing by providing a space for people to come together and tackle the most pressing challenges faced by the world today.

As an open problem-solving platform, everyone is able to contribute in their own way – with the strongest submissions ending up being evaluated by some of the world’s leading experts. Through utilizing a threefold technological design approach, model-based planning, online debates, and an internet voting system, Climate CoLab provides a space for collaborative planning and solving on a global scale with regard to climate change.

Going back to transitioning to a circular economy, Wazoku Crowd and Climate CoLab ran a Challenge in 2018 which sought innovative solutions for exactly this, through the form of projects, technologies, and strategies. With numerous submissions, the winning solution proposed an innovative app that focuses on connecting actors from all parts of society – SMEs, enterprises, families etc. – to ‘recyclers’  in order to bolster recycling rates in Colombia.

Through their visionary approach, this solution identified a pathway to significantly enhance the social, environmental, and economic dimensions of the recycling community in Colombia. 

Overall, the Enel and Climate CoLab cases illustrate the transformative potential of crowdsourcing, uniting people around the world in a shared mission to combat some of the most pressing issues of our time – transcending geographical boundaries and disciplinary silos. 

By Gabriella Anesio

Gabriella is a Marketing Associate at Wazoku. She’s a massive fan of any and all music (except country music...) - you’ll never catch her without her headphones.