Please join us this Thursday, April 21st at 9 CDT for a panel discussion of low-tech innovations. Institute director, Scott Johnson, will join seven other speakers to discuss ways in which judicious use of resources, technology, and existing ideas can be harnessed to solve problems facing society.
Within an alternative approach to high-technology, low technologies support sobriety in consumption and production, and promote the development of simple, inexpensive, accessible and repairable tools that use locally available resources. Low technologies can also be found under the frame of “frugal innovations”, defined by the UNICEF Office for Innovation as “a term that refers to products or services born out of necessity and in contexts that happen to be limited in available resources”. This approach takes into account the social and environmental aspects along the supply chain, from cradle (sourcing) to grave (recycling), which also echoes the SDGs’ target on sustainable consumption and production. Strongly encouraging human creativity and bottom-up initiatives, it seeks to empower individuals at once, setting the stage for more resilient technical and political systems aligned with local know-hows, without putting emphasis on the commercial and marketing aspects of the products. Low-tech uses as much as possible technologies that are user-friendly and addresses the question of their necessity in responding to human needs while considering social issues, sustainability, resilience and material footprint. As Navi Radjou, co-author of the book Frugal Innovation (2015) puts it, three principles underpin this discipline: keep it simple ; do not reinvent the wheel ; think and act horizontally. Another perspective, from the French Low-Tech Lab, highlights the following characteristics for a product to be considered low-tech: useful, accessible, and sustainable.French Embassy Website