Pakistani startups win big at UN’s Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyle Challenge
Two Pakistani innovators, Mohammad Saquib and Hassam Ud-din, have won the Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge in energy efficiency and low carbon mobility categories, respectively. They have won the United Nations (UN) Environment Grant worth US $10,000 each to support their efforts for promoting sustainable lifestyles.
The Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge, held earlier this year in Bangkok, Thailand aiming to mobilize and support young individuals with new technology and business ideas on how to foster energy-efficient, low-waste, and low-carbon lifestyles.
In a statement released on the occasion, Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s Director for the Asia-Pacific region said,
“Young innovators like Mohammed and Hassam are examples of the ingenuity we need to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I’m particularly excited to see that both of their solutions are geared toward helping some of the poorest among us. Improving lifestyles across Asia and the Pacific must be an inclusive endeavor, and Mohammed and Hassam are demonstrating how we can get it done.”
25-year-old Mohammed Saquib was among winners in the energy category. He made an ultra-energy efficient flat-pack house that can be constructed in three hours. They are specifically designed for people displaced by climate disasters, the materials used have a footprint 52 times lower than a traditional concrete home that offers superior insulation to save energy and can last 30 years. Saquib shared,
“We saw one of the worst refugee crises in the world hits its peak in 2016. Millions were displaced, and many were left homeless and exposed to extreme climate and social problems in makeshift camps and shelters. My team and I felt we could use our engineering knowledge to help.”
Hassam Ud-din, another winner, and a Silicon Valley-trained technology entrepreneur aims to work for promoting affordable and efficient transport infrastructure. Hassam made a mobile application called RASAI, which allows for peer-to-peer sharing of a vehicle’s extra space and seats, offering intercity ride sharing and freight-shipping capabilities.
Freight transport vehicles can also use the application to provide spare cargo space at low cost, enabling small businesses like farmers to bring their goods to market at a lower cost and with higher convenience.
Hassam Ud-din said,
“It is often said that mobility is the single most important factor for an individual to escape poverty. I’ve seen people’s opportunities limited by the availability of transit routes that they can use, on the other hand, road congestion is horrendous. Millions of hours and billions of rupees worth of fuel are wasted sitting in traffic, while most vehicles only use 30 percent of their space capacity. If these inefficiencies can be removed, we could see an unprecedented economic benefit for the developing world.”
The other ten winners of the competition are from China, Bhutan, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Thailand.