20. Bernhard Kowatsch, UN World Food Programme

Bernhard Kowatsch is founder and head of the Innovation Accelerator at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world's largest social impact incubator dedicated to ending hunger worldwide. The Innovation Accelerator offers 15 annual programs to the broader ecosystem on multiple social impact and sustainability issues, such as hunger, climate change, primary healthcare, gender equality, and emergency response. On this episode of Food Lab Talk, Michiel speaks with Bernhard about how tech solutions  can support shifting diets, the importance of centering lived experiences in the change-making journey, and how to balance risk-taking and acute needs to fulfill a long-term vision. 

Bernhard Kowatsch: “What I would advise my younger self is to really embrace risk taking and not worry as much. There's inherent risk in so many aspects of entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial decision making. And sometimes, that may mean that you're taking risks that are really, really feeling uncomfortable. However, if you're working hard, if you're smart, if you're working with the right people, if you have the right partners, if you're looking for advice... I think there's so much impact that you can make. Just try it out. Make experiments if you don't know what the right solution is. Take one step at a time.”

00:46 Intro to Bernhard 
02:30 Overview of the WFP and Innovation Accelerator
03:59 How the WFP helps close the impact-making gap 
06:05 Co-benefits of the WFP Innovation Accelerator
08:04 Using blockchain technology in times of crisis
10:33 An open innovation approach to solve hunger
13:30 Why technology can support sustainable food systems
14:41 Balancing the tension between risk, rapid innovation and known solutions
16:54 Investing in a combination of solutions to support long-term strategy and acute needs
19:09 Ancestral Markets: preserving knowledge and heritage of food
21:17 Fenik Cool Box: extending shelf life of fresh produce
22:44 H2Grow: growing food in impossible places
25:05 Adapting known solutions through community-driven problem-solving
26:50 Do we need another accelerator? 
29:17 Embrace risk-taking and worry less 
31:18 Takeaways for changemakers 


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*The views expressed by the guests in this podcast don't necessarily represent the host’s views, nor those of his employer.

20. Bernhard Kowatsch, UN World Food Programme
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