On October 25, students, professors, scholars, and members of society attended the 9th edition of the Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development. The event featured a lecture by German citizen Georg Kell, founder of the UN Global Compact, the world's largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. Kell is currently a member of the Odebrecht Global Council.
When discussing the challenges of the future, the engineer and economist emphasized that humanity has never had access to so many tools for discovering and implementing sustainable solutions. “What has really helped move us forward?" asked Kell. "What are the major efforts that are shaping the environment, in a more ample sense? I would say that technological change is the essential element. Technology changed how people work, live, and communicate, and has become a serious force for transformation," he said.
There were five winning projects. One of the highlights was Seletora de Mudas de Cana-de-açúcar ("Sugarcane Seedling Selector"), developed at the University of São Paulo (USP) by students Fernando Antonio Torres Velloso da Silva Neto, Henrique Oliveira Martins, and Fernando Paes Lopes, with advisory from researcher Eduardo de Senzi Zancul.
The project is a prototype for automating the selection of sugarcane seedlings produced during the pre-sprouting processes, before being sent for planting. The system identifies the quality of the seedling based on previously established criteria and selects it as either "apt" or "not apt," boosting the efficiency of the planting, but with more productivity and reduced losses.
"This recognition has already opened many doors for us," revealed Fernando Paes Lopes. "The initiative has increased our networking and helped make our idea more well-known. It also allowed us to exchange a great deal of knowledge with Odebrecht Agroindustrial, helping us accelerate the technical development of the prototype," he said.
The 9th edition included projects entered by students from the Engineering, Architecture, and Agronomy majors at Brazilian universities. Focused on recognizing and encouraging university students to think from a sustainable perspective, the award encourages the generation and sharing of knowledge.
The projects are evaluated based on their economic feasibility, environmental responsibility, and social inclusion. Each project received R$ 60,000, divided into R$ 20,000 for the author (or authors), R$ 20,000 for the advisory professor, and R$ 20,000 for the teaching institution. Created in 2008, the Odebrecht Award has distributed more than R$ 1 million since its creation in Brazil alone. The initiative is also replicated in another 11 countries. Learn more about the winning projects from this edition.