15 Jan 2018 News Resource efficiency

The Asia-Pacific low-carbon lifestyles challenge

Do you want to take action to make sustainable lifestyles easier in Asia and the Pacific?  

Young entrepreneurs, citizens, community leaders, activists, chefs, scientists and students - we invite you to join the Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge!

This is an initiative funded by the Ministry of Environment Japan, as part of SWITCH-Asia’s Regional Policy Advocacy, the Asia-Pacific Regional Roadmap on Sustainable Consumption and Production and the One Planet network (the network of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10 YFP)).  This initiative is carried out together with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, The Thai National Science and Technology Development Agency and Sasin Entrepreneurship Center.

View the Finalists

The Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge aims to mobilize and support young people with business ideas on how to foster energy-efficient, low-waste and low-carbon lifestyles. 

What’s the Challenge?

To start a business venture that will reduce the waste, energy and carbon footprint of lifestyles in Asia and the Pacific.


Am I eligible? 

  • To engage in this challenge you must be less than 35 years old at the time of application.
  • The Challenge is open to citizens of  Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kiribati, Lao, People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor- Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Cook Islands, Niue.  
  • You must be available to attend our training on 18-21 March 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Please submit your application by 28 January (23:59 Bangkok time). View the Finalists
  • Click here to fill the registration form online or download the registration form here (Microsoft word file) and send the complete form to [email protected]


Do you think you might have a great idea, but aren’t totally sure if it contributes to a sustainable lifestyle?

Well, let us help you!

First of all, ANY idea that will lower the waste, energy and/or carbon footprint of a community is welcome, even if you think your idea might be a little crazy. Please tell us about it!

Second, here is a little more information on what we mean by a sustainable lifestyle:

Lifestyles define us; they are the way we live our lives, what we do, with whom, where, how and what we use to do it. This includes everything from the food we eat and how we interact with others to the way we get around. Lifestyles also define our identity; we express our social position, political preferences and psychological aspirations to others through our lifestyles.

But how does this relate to the environment? Well, everything we consume as part of our lifestyle has to be (1) produced – and production means extracting from the environment, (2) used – and use can mean harm such as emissions from cars, and (3) disposed of eventually – leading to waste. Our consumption decisions, which are defined by our lifestyles, trickle through our economy and end up in one place: the environment.

Creating sustainable lifestyles means rethinking our ways of living, how we buy, what we consume and how we organize our daily lives. It is about transforming our societies and living in balance with our natural environment. All of our choices and actions - whether at home or at work - on energy use, transport, food, waste and communication contribute to sustainable lifestyles. Of course, people do not consume with the intention to harm the earth.  We consume to meet basic and social needs (nutrition, health, convenience, traditions); to fulfil our personal desires (preferences in food or how we get around); due to the influence of advertising and marketing (consumer goods); and because there is no choice. 

The problem is, humanity currently consumes more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide. Why is that? We like to blame business or government, but ultimately, the only reason we take natural resources out of the ground is because those materials are used to make the products and infrastructure that we use to enjoy the best of life. The sand and gravel under the roads we use, the steel in the buildings we live and work in, the copper in the phones we communicate with, the fish in our soup, and the cotton in our jeans—all of it comes from the earth. The extraction of materials from the environment is the start of a causal chain that serves our consumption patterns, which are shaped by our lifestyles. As consumers and voters, we ultimately determine the amount of mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing that occurs every year, which is what causes impacts on our environment.

Key elements of sustainable lifestyles

Knowing how to shift towards sustainable lifestyles involves understanding WHY people consume the way they do, and figuring out more sustainable options to meet those needs. 

Needs can be tricky to figure out – which needs drive us to consume?


WHAT: Food provides us with the nutrients we need to live.  Most of us are fortunate enough that food is more than subsistence. We can make choices about food depending on other factors – including convenience.

ECO CONCERNS:  We are wasting one third of all food – and using far too much plastic at all stages of food consumption. Our food choices at the supermarket, take away and even in eat-in locations involve a huge about of plastic waste – straws, containers, bags and disposable cutlery. 

TYPES OF PROJECTS: can you think of a way to:

  • Reduce the use of plastics in food consumption?


WHAT: Our homes provide us with physical protection and security.  Beyond that, they can serve many needs – an outlet for creativity in how we decorate them, a place of leisure where we can relax, possibly a place where we work, and often times a place to share with others in a family or community.

ECO CONCERNS: Buildings consume a third of global energy and contribute to 21 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

TYPES OF PROJECTS: can you think of a way to:

  • Encourage people to switch to energy efficiency at home, whether that is appliances (light bulbs) or techniques (how you dry your clothes)
  • Encourage the use of climate-friendly refrigerants in air conditioners and fridges
  • Help people measure their energy use at home (and show them how to reduce the energy-intensive uses)


WHAT: Consumer goods include the items we buy by choice – not necessity. Fashion, gadgets, interior decoration – these are products that enable us to express our identity, creativity, to pass our time, to make lives easier, to give as gifts to express affection.

ECO CONCERNS: The extraction of raw materials from the environment disrupts local natural systems, production causes waste and pollution – not to mention, where do all these things go when we are done with them?  

TYPES OF PROJECTS: Can you think of a way to:

  • Shift to more energy-efficient versions of appliances?
  • Avoid disposable items like plastic bags and straws?
  • Shift to compostable replacements for disposable plastic?
  • Facilitate recycling and take back of plastic waste?


WHAT: Transport – cars, buses, bikes – gives us wider access to work, leisure and services. Without transport options, we would need to meet all our needs within a very small radius.  

ECO CONCERNS: Shifting to personal vehicles is using up valuable land space and contributing to urban pollution and traffic congestion.

TYPES OF PROJECTS: Can you think of a way to:

  • Encourage people to shift to bikes or walking for part of their commute? 
  • Help people share rides?
  • Shift from cars to public transport?
  • Make more bikes available?


WHAT: Leisure is an increasing component of our lifestyles. That’s great! But how to we fill our leisure time? Travel, the arts, shopping, sports – are these equal when it comes to sustainable lifestyles?

ECO CONCERNS: Tourism, restaurants, cafes and shopping malls are being associated with high energy use, carbon-intensive travel and plastic waste.    

TYPES OF PROJECTS: Can you think of a way to:

  • Reduce the use of disposable plastics in shopping malls and tourism?
  • Facilitate low carbon transport in tourism?  
  • Reduce the energy intensity of hotels or shopping malls?
  • Convince people to travel domestically or by train instead of taking a flight? 

Why Asia?

We all know it: lifestyles and consumption patterns are changing rapidly right here in the Asia-Pacific region.

While many countries in the region have successfully lifted people out of poverty, this has come at the cost of increased use of natural resources, massive increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and rising amounts of waste.

The Asia region is a vastly diverse region, and yet the core aspects of sustainable lifestyles are at the epicenter of most cultures and faiths. Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the main faiths in the region, and have significantly contributed to cultural norms and beliefs about waste, consumption and interaction with the environment. With the rise of globalisation, and the significant rise of the advertising and marketing sector, people are increasingly exposed to new messages shaping cultural norms and aspirations, which relate strongly to consumption patterns. These messages in turn shape decisions about how individuals will meet their fundamental human needs (community, identity, sustenance, etc.) with their increased incomes.  

Please don’t forget: since sustainable lifestyles are truly a holistic concept, you may be given bonus points if your project idea looks at multiple aspects of a sustainable lifestyle!

Would you like to see what some members of the Asia-Pacific region are saying about their current lifestyles?  Learn about food, housing, mobility and leisure in a selection of countries!  Visit www.4billiondreams.com and click on the faces to hear a lifestyle story.

Judging criteria

Wondering how we will assess your application? Here are some key points:

Is your proposed project…

  • Facilitating low-carbon lifestyles? The project must aim to help a measurable amount of people to reduce the carbon footprint of their lifestyles in one or more of the following domains: households, food, mobility, consumer goods and leisure. 
  • Articulated clearly? Projects must have a clear question or problem that will be addressed with a reasonably specific solution.
  • Realistic? The project should be able to generate results within 12 months. The goals need to balance aspiration with attainability.  This includes a quick start element with a clear outline of what has to be done within the first three months.
  • Led by someone who is a stakeholder in the area they want to see impact? The applicant has to make a case for how they specifically will use their networks, role in society or other to carry out the project. A successful candidate is not just an "ideas person" – you need to be a stakeholder in your domain of influence.
  • Measurable? Can the project develop baseline data and measure impact? For example, energy, transport methods, food types and amounts, number of products, hours of community engagement, etc.
  • Sustainable beyond the grant period? The project concept should indicate how it will have lasting impact beyond the implementation period. 
  • Scalable and replicable? Is this an idea that could be expanded on a large scale or replicated in another sector or country?

Resources for proposal authors