A “CityTree” that is like a Green Wall

Would a “CityTree” that is like a Green Wall, provide an environmental impact equal to that of up to 275 normal urban trees.  in any case this has begun being used to filter toxic pollutants from the air of some cities in Europe and possibly alleviate Climate Change.
The decision of Donald Trump to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement was not a surprise. It was part of his electoral campaign anyway.  It is still too early to assess the consequences of the withdrawal from a text that will not take effect until 2020.  By the way, that will be election year when D. Trump would go back to the polls for presumably a possible second mandate.
Meanwhile, China’s commitment would be beside the fact that its leaders have expressed their disappointment and concern at the announced withdrawal of America from the Paris Agreement, part of all those countries who intend to support it.
There are several reasons for this.
The first reason is institutional. For Beijing an agreement signed by several countries in an international forum is worth more to the Chinese leaders than bilateral commitments.  The second reason is environmental and is obvious that pollution is at unprecedented levels in that country, recurrently causing social tensions mostly related to the quality of air or water, power or respect for nature.
Would we be wrong if we assume that D. Trump envisages building a number of these walls?
An CNN article written by Chris Giles, CNN and updated on June 8, 2017 is about a particular solution that could make some difference to the issue of air pollution.  It is per this article already being put to use in Europe. 

This ‘tree’ has the environmental benefits of a forest

The “CityTree” has the same environmental impact of up to 275 normal urban trees. Using moss cultures that have large surface leaf areas, it captures and filters toxic pollutants from the air.

CNN) Air pollution is one of the world’s invisible killers.

It causes seven million premature deaths a year, making it the largest single environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

In urban areas, air quality is particularly problematic. More than 80% of people living in areas where pollution is monitored are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. And given that by 2050 two thirds of the global population will be urban, cleaning up our cities’ air is a matter of urgency.

One well-established way to reduce air pollutants is to plant trees, as their leaves catch and absorb harmful particulates.

But planting new trees is not always a viable option.

That’s why the “CityTree”, a mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air, has been popping up in cities around the world, including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong.

A CityTree in Paris, France.

Moss is in the air

Each CityTree is just under 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep, available in two versions: with or without a bench. A display is included for information or advertising.

Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees.

But the CityTree isn’t, in fact, a tree at all — it’s a moss culture.

“Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants,” said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.

The CityTree includes Wi-fi enabled sensors that measure the local air quality.

The huge surfaces of moss installed in each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. The installation is autonomous and requires very little maintenance: solar panels provide electricity, while rainwater is collected into a reservoir and then pumped into the soil.

To monitor the health of the moss, the CityTree has sensors which measure soil humidity, temperature and water quality.

“We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” Wu said.

Its creators say that each CityTree is able to absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter a day and contributes to the capture of greenhouse gases by removing 240 metric tons of CO2 a year.

Read more in the original document.

 

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The US leaving the 2015 Paris Agreement

The two-day visit of Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia and meeting with more than 50 Middle Eastern Arab and Muslim leaders to whom he counselled to combat Islamic extremism from the region, before adding that it is a “battle between good and evil” and not a clash between the West and Islam has gone relatively well and it is almost forgotten now.  The proposed topic of Donald Trump’s mulling over the idea of the US leaving the 2015 Paris Agreement sounds to many as rather unfortunate.  
The American president will be announcing sometime today his decision on the withdrawal or not of the United States from the agreement, adopted in December 2015 in Paris by 195 countries. 
It is the first legally binding agreement of its kind in the world and yet it is still suspended by a decision of the tenant of the White House, who in the past has never hidden his hostility to such agreement.
The Brookings sustains in this article that the American majorities despite voting for the man was surveyed to be this time not very supportive of this last stance of their president.

FIXGOV

Paris Agreement enjoys more support than Donald Trump

By William A. Galston,  Wednesday, May 31, 2017

President Trump reportedly intends to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement. His advisors may have told him that it will be a popular move. This is what they told him about firing FBI Director James Comey, and he seems to have believed it. This could become yet another self-inflicted wound, because vast majorities of Americans want to remain in the Paris accord, including many of his own supporters.

In a survey of registered voters taken just weeks after the 2016 election, 69% said that the U.S. should participate in the agreement. This figure included 86% of Democrats, 61% of Independents, and 51% of Republicans. By a margin of 40 to 34%, even a plurality of self-described conservative Republicans backed the agreement.

The administration has argued that the Paris agreement is “unfair” because large polluting countries such as India and China are not required to do anything until 2030. The voters don’t buy this argument. Two-thirds of them—79% of Democrats, 56% of Independents, and 51% of Republicans–say that the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.

What about Mr. Trump’s core supporters? A February 2017 survey of voters who supported him in November found 47% in favor of participating in the Paris agreement; only 28% disagreed.

By the way, only 30% of Mr. Trump’s supporters agree with his claim that climate change is a hoax.

The president may be interested in his supporters’ views on related subjects:

  • 62% support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming.
    • 71% favor funding more research into clean energy.
    • 69% favor providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy efficient vehicles or solar panels.
    • 52% favor eliminating all federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and 48% support requiring the industry to pay a carbon tax that would be used to reduce other taxes.
    • 73% say that the U.S. should make more use of renewable energy sources, compared to only 31% who say this about fossil fuels. In fact, more Trump voters think we should reduce rather than increase our use of fossil fuels.

The president and his advisors may regard these surveys as more fake news from academia. Before they dismiss them outright, they may want to take a look at the list of other surveys conducted in the past year that reached similar conclusions:

Green and Climate Resilient Development

Green development through sustainability as the main parameter could nowadays be generally said to be adopted by all countries so as to advance their green and climate resilient development in support of Agenda 2030 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as established in the COP21 of Paris in December 2015 and ratified a year afterwards in the COP22 of Marrakesh.
EcoMENA’s Salman Zafar produced this fantastic article today.  It is mainly about how to financially attain and sustain green development as defined by the above understandings of the last 2 COPs mentioned above.
We reproduce this article with our compliments to the publisher and our thanks to the author for our keen purposes of spreading further these wise words out into our own circles of friends and sympathisers.

Green Finance: Powering Sustainable Tomorrow

Image courtesy EcoMENA

Green finance provides linkage between the financial industry, protection of the environment and economic growth. Simply speaking, green finance refers to use of financial products and services, such as loans, insurance, stocks, private equity and bonds in green (or eco-friendly) projects. Green finance, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, provides public well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and improving ecological integrity. For example, global interest in green energy finance is increasing at a rapid pace – in 2015, investments in green energy reached an all-time high figure of US$ 348.5 billion, which underscores the significance of green finance.

Potential and Promise

Environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation, resource conservation and sustainable development play a vital role in access to green finance. During the past few years, green finance (also known as climate finance) has gained increasing relevance mainly due to the urgency of financing climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, and scale of sustainable development projects around the world.

The impetus has been provided by three major agreements adopted in 2015 – Paris Agreement on climate change, a new set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the ‘financing for development’ package. The implementation of these agreements is strongly dependent on finance, and realizing its importance the G20 nations established Green Finance Study Group (GFSG) in February 2016, co-chaired by China and the UK, with UNEP serving as secretariat.

According to Sustainable Energy for All, a global initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, annual global investments in energy will need to increase from roughly US$400 billion at present to US$1-1.25 trillion, out of which US$40-100 billion annually is needed to achieve universal access to electricity. On the other hand, around US$5-7 trillion a year is needed to implement the SDGs globally. Such a massive investment is a big handicap for developing countries as they will face an annual investment gap of US$2.5 trillion in infrastructure, clean energy, water, sanitation, and agriculture projects. Green finance is expected to fill this gap by aligning financial systems with the financing needs of a sustainable or low-carbon economy.

Bonding with Green

An emerging way to raise debt capital for green projects is through green bonds. Green bonds are fixed income, liquid financial instruments dedicated exclusively to climate change mitigation and adaption projects, and other environment-friendly activities. The prime beneficiaries of green bonds are renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transport, forest management, water management, sustainable land use and other low-carbon projects.

A record US$41 billion worth of green bonds was issued in 2015 which is estimated to rise to US$80 billion by the end of 2016. Notably, the World Bank issued its first green bond in 2008, and has since issued about US$8.5 billion in green bonds in 18 currencies. In addition, the International Finance Corporation issued US$3.7 billion, including two US$1 billion green bond sales in 2013.

Green bonds enable fund raising for new and existing projects with environmental benefits

Green bonds have the potential to raise tens of billions of dollars required each year to finance the global transition to a green economy. According to International Energy Agency, around $53 trillion of energy investments are required till 2035 to put the world on a two-degree path, as agreed during the historic Paris Climate Conference COP21. The main drivers of green bonds for investors includes positive environmental impact of investments, greater visibility in fight against climate change and a strong urge for ‘responsible investment’.

Key Bottlenecks

Many developing countries experience hurdles in raising capital for green investment due lack of awareness and to inadequate technical capacities of financial institutions. Many banks, for instance, are not familiar with the earnings and risk structure of green investments, which makes them reluctant to grant the necessary loans or to offer suitable financing products. With rising popularity of green finance, it is expected that financial institutions will quickly adapt to funding requirements of environment-friendly projects.

Technosphere from a Geological Perspective

How best to start this article on the Technosphere from a Geological Perspective than by quoting this paragraph of that other article titled “Harvesting the Biosphere: the Human Impact” of Vaclav Smil. It goes like this: “Five thousand years ago the earth most likely contained fewer [ . . . ]

How best to start this article on the Technosphere from a Geological Perspective than by quoting this paragraph of that other article titled “Harvesting the Biosphere: the Human Impact”  of Vaclav Smil. It goes like this:

“Five thousand years ago the earth most likely contained fewer than 20 million people; at the beginning of the common era the total was about 200 million; a millennium later it had risen to about 300 million; in 1500, at the onset of the early modern era, it was still less than 500 million, and one billion was passed shortly after 1800. In 1900 the total was about 1.6 billion, in 1950 2.5 billion, in 2000 6.1 billion, and in 2010 it approached 7 billion. Consequently, there has been a 350-fold increase in 5,000 years, more than a 20-fold gain during the last millennium, and roughly a quadrupling between 1900 and 2010.”

It is now quite obvious that human presence on earth as evolved during the recent millennia has in an indelible way been marked for good on the earth’s crust. Unlike the lengthily debated climate change veracity, the now known as technosphere (see below) is for all to see and appreciate literally with the naked eye. The question would be that of whether this human activity induced layer of technosphere be uniformly spread through the world’s continents, regions of the lands and oceans. Or on the contrary, there are areas with thicker layers as opposed to others elsewhere.

A short article of the WEF written by Robert Guy, Content Producer, Formative Content and published on Friday 3 March 2017 is straight forward and quite educational.

Somebody finally measured humanity’s impact on Earth. And here’s the answer

New research has weighed up total material output from human activity Image: REUTERS/Faisal MahmoodWe know that no other species has had so great an impact on the planet as us. What we haven’t known – until now – is how to quantify that impact. Thanks to the estimates in a new report, however, we can now place the sum total of our material output on Earth at over 30 trillion tonnes.

Who came up with the number?

The research was published in the Anthropocene Review, a scientific journal that gathers together peer-reviewed articles on the nature of the current geological epoch, one defined by the presence of man.

While our biosphere would incorporate the total mass of all living things on Earth, the technosphere includes the summed material output of the human race. It’s this that the research aims to calculate.

Image: Statista

Biggest material contributors

The report breaks down the human effect into different aspects of activity. Here are the top 10 aspects, visualized in the Statista chart above. Urban areas have the greatest impact by far (at 11.1 trillion tonnes) with rural housing coming second, at 6.3 trillion. The authors note that while these numbers are difficult to guarantee with precision, they are of the correct order of magnitude.

A weighty issue

In the present day, the biomass of the entire human race is approximately equal to 300 million tonnes. This is more than double that of all large terrestrial vertebrates that lived on Earth prior to human civilization, and an entire order of magnitude greater than that of all vertebrates currently living in the wild.

At 30.11 trillion tonnes, the size of the technosphere is five orders of magnitude greater than even that. It is the equivalent of every single square metre of Earth’s surface being covered with nearly 50kg of matter.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide makes up just a small part of the technosphere, and our production of the harmful gas currently sits at 1 trillion tonnes. Although that only contributes to one-third of the total, it is still enough to balance out 150,000 Egyptian pyramids. It is also enough to fill a layer approximately 1 metre thick across the entire planet – a layer that grows thicker by a millimetre every fortnight. And that’s not even counting the quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions that sink into the oceans.

 

 

The US commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The US commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as signed off at the COP22 seems to be dependent on the recently invested president of the country. Should we, in all humility, remind that on 5 October 2016, the minimum required for this agreement [ . . . ]

The US commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as signed off at the COP22 seems to be dependent on the recently invested president of the country.

Should we, in all humility, remind that on 5 October 2016, the minimum required for this agreement were effectively reached and these now are up and running as of November 4th, 2016. The ensuing conference (COP22) in Marrakesh consecrated that.
The Paris Agreement brought for the first time all nations representatives to sit together in a single hall and agree on a course of actions on a global climate effort.  Is this now in jeopardy?
This article of the Brookings PLANETPOLICY published on February 24th, 2017, of which excerpts are reproduced here, does help to enlighten us on the possible and as put by a US media on the “potentially deep fissures developing in the international consensus” with far reaching outcomes due basically to such lack of commitment on the rest of the world and to the detriment of all.

PLANETPOLICY

American soft power, the Paris Agreement, and climate finance under Trump

by Timmons Roberts and Caroline Jones

 

The Trump administration might think that the United States can’t afford to maintain our pledged contribution to climate aid, but what we really can’t afford is to walk back on that commitment. The real costs of retreating from the Paris climate treaty—the geopolitical, humanitarian, and domestic economic costs—far outweigh the relatively small amount of aid that the U.S. has previously agreed to contribute.

To renege on our commitments to climate finance made in support of the Paris Agreement would weaken America’s ability to muster enthusiastic support on important international policies we might care about. Flash forward a year, when the U.S. administration is attempting to lead on a policy it cares about, and requires some willing allies for a coalition to put boots on the ground, or wants votes in the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. Which countries will be there when we need them?

If we stop or sharply reduce our funding to the world’s most vulnerable and poor nations as they struggle to cope with rising intensity of heat waves, sea level rise, strengthened hurricanes, and crop-withering droughts, we will be party to a preventable humanitarian crisis. The poorest nations were scarcely responsible for creating the problem of climate change, and they are ill prepared to handle the consequences. To be isolationist and shortsighted on the question of climate change will bring blowback beyond what we can afford. Adhering to the Paris Agreement and meeting our climate finance pledges will in the end be far cheaper.

WHAT AMERICA PROMISED IN PARIS

Many governments are watching closely to see if the new administration in Washington will choose to remain a party to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Already, some foreign negotiators have said that, if President Donald Trump refuses to play fair on climate change, they similarly won’t cooperate on other global issues, like trade and security. The deal struck in Paris was a delicate one, but in the end nearly every nation on Earth agreed that it was in their interest to be part of a collective effort to avoid the most dangerous impacts of heating the planet with unrestrained fossil fuel consumption. The innovation of Paris was that the whole agreement is built on voluntary national pledges, called “nationally-determined contributions.” The only binding part of the entire package is that actions toward meeting those pledges must be reported transparently back to the U.N. agency that coordinates the process, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Paris Agreement also calls for five-year reviews of progress toward its ultimate goal of keeping average global warming below 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C).

Early in the Paris text, there is some language that “[s]upport shall be provided to developing country Parties” by developed countries to help reduce their emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change with finance that is adequate to those needs. The agreement reaffirms an earlier collective pledge from the developed nations to jointly provide $100 billion a year in grants, loans, and investments in developing countries, from public and private sources.

The authors are : Timmons Roberts, Nonresident Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Developmenttimmonsroberts and Caroline Jones, Researcher – Climate and Development Lab, Brown University

 

Solar Power plants from Morocco to Oman

Following the COP21 conference in Paris in December 2015, the MENA countries kick-started their part of the Agreements, otherwise known as their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs). Meanwhile, all renewable energy related hardware costs dropping as pushed by ever increasing advances in technology, most of these [ . . . ]

Following the COP21 conference in Paris in December 2015, the MENA countries kick-started their part of the Agreements, otherwise known as their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs).  Meanwhile, all renewable energy related hardware costs dropping as pushed by ever increasing advances in technology, most of these countries embarked on development programs mainly in the solar power sector. These programs have started to be concretised and are now showing in the diverse landscapes as the 2016 crop of Solar Power plants from Morocco to Oman.

A MENA region focused organisation (MESIA) specialising in renewable energy produced a report titled Middle East Solar Outlook 2016 in which it reviews all countries that had substantial realisations to date whether on the ground or still on the drawing board.

The specialist website Renewables Now has reviewed the MESIA report and published its views on it on February 17, 2017.  Here are some excerpts.

 

MENA reaches 885 MW solar in operation, several tenders coming

Solar power in Algeria Source: russavia on flickr.com (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region had 885 MW of operational solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal (CSP) parks at the end of 2016, and there are now about 5 GW of projects in the pipeline, according to the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA).

A bit over 3.6 GW of projects are under execution, with Egypt leading the list with 1.5 GW. MESIA expects financial close for Egyptian projects this year.

Details on several tenders for solar capacity are expected soon. MESIA said the bid submission date for Dubai’s 200-MW concentrated solar power project is to be scheduled in May. The award and closing of the auction is seen to take place in the second half of the year. Saudi Arabia is expected to tender 300 MW later in 2017 and Oman is to issue a request for proposal (RfP) in mid-year for a PV project of around 200 MW.

Solar tenders or plans for such have also been announced in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Iran.

The table shows the operational capacity and under execution projects at the end of 2016. All figures comes from MESIA’s annual report and all are in megawatts (MW).

“2017 looks like a promising and busy year for those active in the solar industry.”MESIA expects this year to see further adoption of batteries, pumped-hydro and other energy storage technologies across the region.

 

The 3 core Responsibilities of every Government of any Nation

The best way to go about discussing the topic covered by the proposed article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and Chief Executive Officer, New America and published on Monday 13 February 2017 by the WEF is to recall the failure and eventual collapse [ . . . ]

The best way to go about discussing the topic covered by the proposed article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and Chief Executive Officer, New America and published on Monday 13 February 2017 by the WEF is to recall the failure and eventual collapse of the former Soviet Union and what caused its abrupt end not so far ago. Is it lack of these 3 core responsibilities of every government of any nation discussed here, from the agenda of the successive governments?

Or was it as many see it, like in those MENA’s region so-called republics due to that sprinkle of socialistic orientations in their political strategy of the 60s and 70s ? Any thoughts ?

Or is the whole thing a soft reminder directed towards the new tenant of the White House of his basic duties?

3 responsibilities every government has towards its citizens

The oldest and simplest justification for government is as protector: protecting citizens from violence.

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan describes a world of unrelenting insecurity without a government to provide the safety of law and order, protecting citizens from each other and from foreign foes. The horrors of little or no government to provide that function are on global display in the world’s many fragile states and essentially ungoverned regions. And indeed, when the chaos of war and disorder mounts too high, citizens will choose even despotic and fanatic governments, such as the Taliban and ISIS, over the depredations of warring bands.

The idea of government as protector requires taxes to fund, train and equip an army and a police force; to build courts and jails; and to elect or appoint the officials to pass and implement the laws citizens must not break. Regarding foreign threats, government as protector requires the ability to meet and treat with other governments as well as to fight them. This minimalist view of government is clearly on display in the early days of the American Republic, comprised of the President, Congress, Supreme Court and departments of Treasury, War, State and Justice.

Protect and provide

The concept of government as provider comes next: government as provider of goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves. Government in this conception is the solution to collective action problems, the medium through which citizens create public goods that benefit everyone, but that are also subject to free-rider problems without some collective compulsion.

The basic economic infrastructure of human connectivity falls into this category: the means of physical travel, such as roads, bridges and ports of all kinds, and increasingly the means of virtual travel, such as broadband. All of this infrastructure can be, and typically initially is, provided by private entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to build a road, say, and charge users a toll, but the capital necessary is so great and the public benefit so obvious that ultimately the government takes over.

A more expansive concept of government as provider is the social welfare state: government can cushion the inability of citizens to provide for themselves, particularly in the vulnerable conditions of youth, old age, sickness, disability and unemployment due to economic forces beyond their control. As the welfare state has evolved, its critics have come to see it more as a protector from the harsh results of capitalism, or perhaps as a means of protecting the wealthy from the political rage of the dispossessed. At its best, however, it is providing an infrastructure of care to enable citizens to flourish socially and economically in the same way that an infrastructure of competition does. It provides a social security that enables citizens to create their own economic security.

The future of government builds on these foundations of protecting and providing. Government will continue to protect citizens from violence and from the worst vicissitudes of life. Government will continue to provide public goods, at a level necessary to ensure a globally competitive economy and a well-functioning society. But wherever possible, government should invest in citizen capabilities to enable them to provide for themselves in rapidly and continually changing circumstances.

Not surprisingly, this vision of government as investor comes from a deeply entrepreneurial culture. Technology reporter Gregory Ferenstein has polled leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and concluded that they “want the government to be an investor in citizens, rather than as a protector from capitalism. They want the government to heavily fund education, encourage more active citizenship, pursue binding international trade alliances and open borders to all immigrants.” In the words of Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt: “The combination of innovation, empowerment and creativity will be our solution.”

This celebration of human capacity is a welcome antidote to widespread pessimism about the capacity of government to meet current national and global economic, security, demographic and environmental challenges. Put into practice, however, government as investor will mean more than simply funding schools and opening borders. If government is to assume that in the main citizens can solve themselves more efficiently and effectively than government can provide for them, it will have to invest not only in the cultivation of citizen capabilities, but also in the provision of the resources and infrastructure to allow citizens to succeed at scale.

Invest in talent

The most important priority of government as investor is indeed education, but education cradle-to-grave. The first five years are particularly essential, as the brain development in those years determines how well children will be able to learn and process what they learn for the rest of their lives. The government will thus have to invest in an entire infrastructure of child development from pregnancy through the beginning of formal schooling, including child nutrition and health, parenting classes, home visits and developmentally appropriate early education programmes. The teenage years are another period of brain development where special programmes, coaching and family support are likely to be needed. Investment in education will fall on barren ground if brains are not capable of receiving and absorbing it. Moreover, meaningful opportunities for continuing education must be available to citizens over the course of their lives, as jobs change rapidly and the acquisition of knowledge accelerates.

Even well-educated citizens, however, cannot live up to their full potential as creative thinkers and makers unless they have resources to work with. Futurists and business consultants John Hagel III, John Seeley Brown and Lang Davison argue in The Power of Pull that successful enterprises no longer design a product according to abstract specifications and push it out to customers, but rather provide a platform where individuals can find what they need and connect to whom they need to be successful. If government really wishes to invest in citizen talent, it will have to provide the same kind of “product” – platforms where citizens can shop intelligently and efficiently for everything from health insurance to educational opportunities to business licenses and potential business partners. Those platforms cannot simply be massive data dumps; they must be curated, designed and continually updated for a successful customer/citizens experience.

Finally, government as investor will have to find a way to be anti-scale. The normal venture capitalist approach to investment is to expect nine ventures to fail and one to take off and scale up. For government, however, more small initiatives that engage more citizens productively and happily are better than a few large ones. Multiple family restaurants in multiple towns are better than a few large national chains. Woven all together, citizen-enterprise in every conceivable area can create a web of national economic enterprise and at least a good part of a social safety net. But government is likely to have to do the weaving.

A government that believes in the talent and potential of its citizens and devote a large portion of its tax revenues to investing in its citizens to help them reach that potential is an attractive vision. It avoids the slowness and bureaucracy of direct government provision of services, although efficient government units can certainly compete. It recognizes that citizens are quicker and more creative at responding to change and coming up with new solutions.

But government investment will have to recognize and address the changing needs of citizens over their entire lifetimes, provide platforms to help them get the resources and make the connections they need, and see a whole set of public goods created by the sum of their deliberately many parts.

Further reading recommended by the WEF.