Open Innovation for a Sustainable Environment

Published Jul-25-16

A cost-effective wide-area wasp baiting system and techniques to improve the monitoring of New Zealand's lizards win a crowdsourcing conservation contest.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF), New Zealand

The Story:

Open Innovation for a Sustainable Environment Open innovation has given NGOs and charities new ways to galvanize their large numbers of supporters. Through crowdsourcing competitions and other initiatives they can harness collective brainpower to provide solutions for common good causes.

One of those taking up the mantle is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an organization with close to five million global members. It organizes the Conservation Innovation Awards, an annual crowdsourcing contest in New Zealand that aims to find and support innovative ways to protect and restore the country's diversity.

Harnessing Crowd Smarts

"Almost all charities have a large number of supporters, and at the moment the only way these people can get involved is in the role of a donor," said Holger Hoffmann-Riem, Head of Innovation, WWF Switzerland.

"In some cases there are volunteers, but crowdsourcing adds a new element to that, where people can take on a large number of different roles, but everybody can do what they’re best at. I think this is a form that gives NGOs the chance to really tap into the potential of their supporters and use it in much more effective ways."

The 2015 awards followed on from the success of the inaugural 2014 contest, with participants invited to submit their ideas to any of the three categories – product, community project and research.

Contributions were voted on by the contest's online community, but the final say on who won what went to the judging panel of independent experts.

Contest Winners

The three winning entries of the 2015 crowdsourcing conservation innovation competition were:

Vespex Wasp Bait by Richard Toft. This is a wasp baiting system for wide-area wasp control anywhere in the world. The initial problem it is trying to solve is reducing the number of Vespula wasps. These insects are a major threat to the native ecosystem through predation of invertebrates and competition for natural resources.

Lure, Trap, Retreat! by Trent Bell. This winning concept aims to improve techniques for surveying and monitoring lizards. The team behind the project claim to have developed traps that increase the trapability for targeted species and decrease the number of trap escapes. It is hoped that this will encourage wider public involvement in lizard monitoring programs.

He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata : Healthy Environment – Healthy People. The idea was submitted by Aitanga A Hauiti, Uawa Tolaga Bay Community, Allan Wilson Centre. The proposal is a way to drive and sustain a healthy environment by linking cultural growth, scientific knowledge, economic and social development.

Prizes and Development

Each category winner in this crowdsourcing conservation contest received a $25,000 development grant and a year-long mentoring package.

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