With the cities of tomorrow incorporating large-scale digitalisation, a new participatory eco-system is currently on the rise. Digital technology already offers citizens the possibility of taking part in city life. Very soon, it will become a means of inclusion. The smart city won't leave anyone behind.
By significantly increasing the capacity for communication and connectivity between individuals, digital technology is driving the collaborative economy and leading to the emergence of a new social model, less consumer-oriented and based on sharing. The city of tomorrow will not lose its soul because of the greater use of technology. Quite the opposite. Whether in matters of education, citizen action, supporting marginalised groups or even looking after the elderly, digital technology enables new solutions to be implemented.
Applications and platforms have become effective vectors for driving social innovation and making it easier to share. The key principles of collaboration and participation are intrinsic to the concept of the smart city, since hyper-connectivity links everyone together. It's a paradigm shift. If the smart city is to work well and fulfil all its promises, it must be built on a new, more inclusive model. Digital technology now offers a significant number of possibilities to make cities more cohesive.
The collaborative economy will reach 570 billion euros by 2025
Development of the collaborative economy has accelerated considerably over the past few years. It can now be found in all types of communities. Its evolution into a complete and separate economic model has been supported by digital platforms, which provide it with the ideal infrastructure. Moreover, by establishing itself as a parallel economy and an alternative to the crisis, more and more people are being convinced. Whether you want to find a job, offer your services or sell something, all you need to do is log in. Disrupting the economy is now as easy as getting on to the internet.
If you believe the statistics published by auditing firm PwC, it's a booming market. The total amount of transactions in the collaborative economy currently stands at 28 billion euros and could, according to the latest estimates, grow twenty-fold to reach 570 billion euros by 2025. Bold figures that attest to a real increase in power. Start-ups have recognised the many advantages to be gained from this new market and are developing more projects in this area, giving greater impetus to the emergence of the collaborative model. Hence the social network Smiile, supported by the French insurance company MAIF, offers its members a whole range of services, from car-pooling, to group purchases and sharing goods and skills, it was designed to be driven by proximity and exchange. Smiile currently has 340,000 members and aims to reach a million within a few months.
"We want to go beyond the purely virtual aspect of social networks by enabling those who live in the same neighbourhood to meet and create social links"
David Rouxel, Founder of Smiile
But this new type of social network is not simply restricted to connecting individuals. It is also an integration platform for start-ups and businesses in the collaborative economy. It has formed partnerships with almost 7,000 manufacturers and traders for their group buying offers, and also with companies such as Koolicar in order to secure a quality shared mobility service for its members. Even more significantly, David Rouxel, the founder of Smiile, is simultaneously developing Smiile City, which uses the same model but is aimed at town halls, local authorities and housing associations. It reinforces dialogue between residents of the same neighbourhood to make it easier for them to report specific problems, such as those to do with the road network for instance, by flagging information up to the mayor. Already piloted in several eco-neighbourhoods, Smiile City wants to become the indispensable tool for the smart city of tomorrow.
In the cities of the future, applications will have a special place. On the one hand, because their use will be made even easier and they will reach even more people due to hyper-connectivity. On the other, because they constitute a response to fears about massive job losses and the vulnerability felt by less highly-skilled workers. And there's more. Digital technology goes even further than reshuffling the cards in the world of work.
By digitalising its neighbourhoods, the Smart City will be able to better identify and account for marginalised groups. Digitalisation will bring considerable improvement to the living conditions of these groups thanks to an applications ecosystem. People suffering exclusion will therefore have a panel of specific Web 2.0 services at their disposal.
A very specific example: the English IT engineer and start-up founder Alex Stephany has just launched the Beam platform, short for 'Be Amazing', in order to help homeless people transform their lives. Beam is a social crowdfunding site which aims to raise funds and enable people who have their sights set on finding a job to get training or return to education. Beam uses the same model as all job centres everywhere: a manager is allocated to each member to take stock of their skills and professional aspirations in order to set up training opportunities. Then a budget is drawn up which includes all the necessary costs, such as accommodation, food and transport. Next the crowdfunding campaign is launched using targeted messaging supported by social networks, as well as distributing newsletters for each project.
Another relevant initiative that foreshadows what tomorrow may bring in using digital technology to care for the most disadvantaged is the Youth Homeless Databank, launched in England in 2016. It aims to provide accurate data on young rough sleepers so they can be cared for more effectively by social services.
Thanks to an application that pools data from local councils, welfare organisations and accommodation providers, it is possible to learn how many young people are living in vulnerable circumstances, and who and where they are. By sending this information to associations working with the homeless, the Youth Homeless Databank now plays a central role in helping to find them accommodation and reintegrating them into society. Here digital technology forms a link between institutions and associations, helping them to work more effectively in the field.
Finally, the increasing potential of the sharing economy and Web 2.0 solidarity undoubtedly only illustrates the transformations in the world of employment and social upheavals that Jeremy Rifkin foresaw in The Third Industrial Revolution. Better care can be provided for elderly people, both now and in the future, thanks to the internet of things and applications that monitor their health in real time. Vulnerable groups are better identified and more easily supported; the unemployed can find work thanks to collaborative platforms. African, Asiatic and South American countries can keep up thanks to Fab Labs which drive local social innovation and focus on 'co-making' and 'co-decision'. All this progress associated with the digital world represents the building blocks of the smart city, which, if it wants to fulfil its potential, must include as many citizens as possible in its project. The city of tomorrow will be collaborative and inclusive if it truly wants to become a reality.
Source : L’Atelier
Our bank's experts help advance energy transition via Solar Impulse Foundation
Two specialists from our bank are among the top experts in this international foundation, which collects profitable solutions for a faster transition to sustainable energy.
Sustainability has been an important pillar for our bank for many years. For example, we have been carbon neutral since 2017, accompany companies in their energy transition and support start-ups and organisations that work with renewable energy. The Solar Impulse Foundation therefore has been benefiting from the sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Group from its inception.
Reconciling ecology and economy
The Solar Impulse Foundation was founded by the Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer, Bertrand Piccard, who makes it his life’s mission to demonstrate the opportunities of sustainable development. In 1999, he was the first to make a non-stop balloon journey around the world and, in 2016, he completed that journey again with a solar-powered aircraft. Since then, Piccard has used his popularity to publicise solutions that can protect the environment profitably. The ultimate goal? Motivate decision-makers and companies to set more ambitious environmental targets and better energy policies in order to achieve carbon neutrality.
1,000 sustainable solutions
Four years ago, Solar Impulse Foundation announced that it was looking for 1,000 sustainable solutions worldwide to accelerate the energy transition. That unique portfolio of solutions should then become an essential part of all environmental decisions, debates and political negotiations. Specifically, these are solutions that companies already have or will introduce to the market and that are economically profitable and technologically feasible, but do not yet have the visibility they deserve.
The targeted 1,000 solutions were reached on 13 April 2021. But because innovation never stops, the Foundation continues to add solutions.
Expertise from our bank
To gather as many innovative solutions as possible, the Foundation receives help from many partners and an extensive pool of more than 300 experts from companies around the world. Since any company may present its product on the Foundation’s website, these experts must assess the registered solutions objectively and in detail in three areas: profitability, environmental impact and technical feasibility. For a few years now, BNP Paribas Fortis employees have also devoted themselves to this task.
One of them is Quentin Nerincx, Senior Advisor Cleantech at our Sustainable Business Competence Centre, who advises companies on becoming more sustainable. “I didn't hesitate to apply," says Quentin enthusiastically. “It’s an exciting project with a wonderful and ambitious goal. Every month, the Foundation sends me a file for analysis. Each solution is studied by two different experts and, if they both make a positive judgement, the solution is labelled by the Solar Impulse Foundation. This quality feature can help to accelerate the implementation of the proposed solution - for example, a new technology or a product.”
Gunter Brems, Sustainability Expert Housing & Sourcing Services, also lends his expertise: “It is an honour to be part of this prestigious project. I have assessed several files in 2020, which was an enriching experience not only to share knowledge but also to acquire new knowledge. It is great to see how innovative some companies are dealing with a changing world, just as our bank does, and how to look for sustainable alternatives together.”
Helping our corporate customers with their energy transition
“This project is also interesting for my job as a sustainability advisor at the bank, because I keep up to speed on new solutions that are being developed worldwide. This allows me to expand my expertise continuously and to contribute broadly to corporate clients looking for solutions for their energy transition", adds Quentin.
At the end of last year, Quentin was informed that he is one of the top 20 experts providing expertise to the Solar Impulse Foundation. Gunter even made it to the top 10. These rankings are mainly based on the number of solutions analysed and the quality of the reports. “We are delighted that our input is appreciated”, the two experts say.
The collection of more than 1,000 approved solutions can be found on the Solar Impulse Foundation website. This summer, the Foundation is also publishing a Solutions Guide that will enable governments, companies and individuals to find and implement concrete solutions on a large scale. With this tool, everyone can find solutions to problems in specific geographical, industrial or financial environments in just three clicks.
The Foundation will also provide various public authorities with a Cleanprint, a kind of report and plan for governments and companies to achieve their climate goals using the solutions collected, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. The report will also indicate where public authorities can modernise their legal frameworks for the ambitious implementation of these solutions. The first Cleanprint will be presented by Bertrand Piccard at COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in November 2021.
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas: “There will be no future for society without a successful, long-term energy transition. This transformation can only be undertaken collectively and requires technical and technological service solutions. In taking up the challenge to select 1,000 solutions which encourage environmental protection while also being profitable, the Solar Impulse Foundation is helping us to reach this goal in a very practical way and in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement.”
Seeing that the solutions collected are actually followed up by government leaders and other decision-makers will be the crowning glory of our work", conclude Quentin and Gunter.
Contact our experts at the Sustainable Business Competence Centre
How can the blue economy make a difference?
What if the future of sustainable business is at the bottom of the ocean for once? Marine biodiversity contains resources that can meet the environmental challenges of many sectors. Perhaps yours, too. Find out more during an online event about the promising blue economy on 11 March 2021.
Blue is the new green
71% of our planet consists of water. Seas and oceans play a crucial role in our climate, and coastal areas can capture up to five times more CO2 than tropical forests. The blue economy wants to benefit from all these advantages to improve both the environment and our well-being,
With local being the keyword. And that's where the difference lies with the green economy, which also focuses on the environment and health, but not always in such a sustainable and smart way. Eating organically grown quinoa from Ecuador, for example, is healthy and eco-friendly, but transporting it here is expensive and creates high amounts of pollution.
What does the underwater world have to offer that can be reused, recycled or converted into new sustainable products? A lot, it turns out, as the unique properties of organisms such as algae, starfish, jellyfish or sea cucumbers can be transformed into sustainable products with high added value. This is a process that requires creativity and innovation, and is already with us today.
For your sector, too
The blue economy is expanding rapidly and could bring about a revolution in a wide range of sectors such as healthcare, food, the plastics industry, cosmetics, energy and even aerospace. It is fully capable of helping companies transform their traditional activities into a sustainable model. And in Belgium's ports, the country already has a huge advantage and excellent access to coastal and offshore areas.
Another scoop of microalgae?
Microalgae, for example, offer a lot of promise, as they can renew themselves and thrive both in the desert and in the ocean. They contain many healthy components, such as proteins, that can be used to develop food products.
When discussing the oceans, the plastic problem is never far away. Human beings are producing more and more plastic as the world's population grows, yet the problem with the existing plastic is that it's nigh on impossible to recycle as its components are hard to separate. By making a completely different type of plastic from biomass, its recycling is already considered at the design stage. A large amount of biomass remains unused in the oceans, and using smart, natural polymers could revolutionise plastic production, for example. These polymers are capable of self-renewal and can adapt to their environment.
Who will pay for it?
Great ideas, you think, but who will pay for them? The financial sector certainly wants to play a role in this revolution and is prepared to take risks and invest in new technologies, production systems and R&D.
This commitment was formalised in various ways during the climate week in New York at the end of September 2020. BNP Paribas signed the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and joined the UNEP FI's Collective Commitment to Climate Action, a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the financial sector. In terms of the maritime sector, the Bank committed to working with customers to preserve and sustain the oceans. Read more about this commitment here (only available in French).
Would you like to find out whether the blue economy could make a difference to your sector?
Sign up here for a free online event on this subject on 11 March 2021 (in English only), organised by BNP Paribas Fortis Transport, Logistics and Ports Chair.
What is the future for mobility post-coronavirus?
The health and economic crisis has affected all aspects of every sector. Among them, mobility, for both private individuals and for companies.
Mobility is evolving every day. And it has been driven further as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Many people have been locked down and working from home has been widespread in many parts of the world.
The coronavirus crisis has changed concerns about transport
We are no longer moving around in the same way. And concerns are no longer the same. According to a BCG Consulting report, social distancing and vehicle cleanliness are the most important aspects for 41% and 39% of respondents, respectively, when choosing a mode of transport. There is also pre- and post-Covid mobility, with respondents being more likely to choose walking, their own bicycle or scooter, or their car than before the crisis.
Sustainable and alternative mobility in the years to come
Mobility has not necessarily waited for the coronavirus crisis in order to evolve. And, according to the same report, the share of more environmentally-friendly vehicles will continue to increase. By 2035, more than 35% of new vehicles will be electric cars, becoming the predominant form of motorised transport worldwide. Autonomous cars will also become more common, with 10% of vehicles being level 4 vehicles (able to travel without a driver, for example), and 65% level 2 or higher.
Customised mobility for employees, right now
The future of mobility is also relevant now, especially for businesses and the self-employed. The need for alternative modes of transport does not only concern private individuals, but also employees. There is no longer a single mode of transport for all situations, but a range of means depending on the need at a given moment. Electric cars, hybrid vehicles, electric bicycles, a public transport season ticket, car sharing, leasing, etc. These modes can take different forms and be combined in a mobility card, for example. There are benefits for the employees and managers of a company but also for the company itself through cost reduction, optimisation and fleet management.
Find out more about our tailor-made mobility solutions
The road to alternative mobility
Nowadays, responsible fleet management is built around sustainability. We're here to help you identify and realise your Corporate Social Responsibility ambitions.
Together we can cut your company's carbon footprint, improve employee mobility, and make sure these steps become a central pillar of your company's added value. In short, our aim is to have an alternative mobility policy.
We can help you make the switch to alternative mobility and new technologies to reduce your carbon footprint. Our SMaRT approach ensures your fleet has the best energy mix to match your strategy and driver profiles.
Alternative mobility needs new technologies to go hand in hand with new infrastructure. That's why we offer not only electric cars, but also the right charging solutions, too. As part of our integrated service provision we can determine how many charging points you need, install them, and manage how they are used both at the workplace and at the driver's home.
Modern mobility management is about more than just cars or vans. You need a 360-degree approach. We'll work with you to determine your mobility strategy and needs. Greener cars are just one of the options available. We have a number of mobility management solutions (such as the Mobility Card) and alternative mobility solutions (such as bicycle leasing) to inspire your organisation to offer a more flexible range.
Focus on employees
When you put your employees at the heart of your organisation, you're in a better position to find skilled employees, satisfy them, and retain them. Go a step further than just an alternative mobility solution: focus on their safety and let them play an active role in achieving your sustainability goals. Trust us to improve their safety and integrate new technologies.