A healthy ocean contributes US$1.5 trillion and millions of jobs to the global economy annually, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Yet climate change has already wreaked havoc on some ocean economies and threatens to put more at risk. So the leaders of 14 countries that make up 40 percent of the world’s coastlines are banding together as the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (known as Ocean Panel). The goal? Sustainably manage nearly 30 million square kilometers (11.5 million square miles) of waters by 2025.
3rd Most Influential Project of 2021
A global team of top law enforcement agencies—including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation along with Europol , the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Dutch National Police and the Swedish Police Authority—created their own undercover communication app—and duped drug traffickers and mobsters into using it, as part of Operation Trojan Shield. Over the course of 18 months, the high-tech sting decoded secrets and snared hundreds of organized crime syndicates, culminating in a two-day takedown in June.
16th Most Influential Project of 2021
Tourism fuels 8 percent of Kenya’s GDP. But poaching, climate change and a human population explosion are putting many of the country’s most well-known animals—and economic growth—at risk. So three government agencies launched the country’s first systematic census this year, a three-month, US$2.3 million project to better track where Kenya’s most threatened species live and to glean conservation insights and strategies for some of its 25,000 species. Among other things, the collected data will help develop conservation policies, and help the central government and local authorities plan infrastructure projects in ways that mitigate damage to wildlife. Now Kenya plans to conduct a wildlife census every three years.
29th Most Influential Project of 2021
It happened a century ago, but the scars of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre still run deep. Looking to answer lingering questions, government leaders have launched an interdisciplinary program, using methods including survivor interviews and ground-surveying technology to locate and recover the bodies of those killed. The project broke ground with a test excavation in 2020, followed by a full dig this year.
34th Most Influential Project of 2021
For many Muslim policewomen, a hijab is a fundamental part of their uniform. Yet without headgear specifically made for use in the line of duty, many women made do with improvised solutions—which meant that they didn’t always feel welcome. The New Zealand Police in Christchurch collaborated with the Nga Pae Mahutonga Wellington School of Design at Massey University to develop a fit-for-purpose hijab, a project that was completed in November 2020.
50th Most Influential Project of 2021
First launched by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2018, the PhilSys project aims to establish the first comprehensive national Filipino identification system, incorporating basic personal information and biometric data. The first phase of registration began in October 2020, with door-to-door information collection from 5 million low-income residents in 32 provinces. Less than a year later, nearly 42 million had completed phase one, and more than 28 million had completed phase two, which includes fingerprinting and iris scans. On the back of PhilSys registrations, the national bank was able to set up 5 million unbanked Filipinos with accounts.
The Canada-Québec Operation High Speed project has an ultra-ambitious target to provide nearly 150,000 underserved homes with high-speed internet within 18 months. Announced in March, the CA$826.3 million megaproject is a collaboration between the Government of Canada, the Government of Québec and six internet service providers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said establishing the deadline of September 2022—and enforcing penalties—will help ensure the project’s success. It’s part of a national push to get 98 percent of Canadians connected to high-speed internet by 2026 and 100 percent by 2030.
One of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals is to end poverty, in all its forms, everywhere. In November 2020, Chinese president Xi Jinping declared his country had met that goal. Eliminating poverty was a key platform for Xi when he took office in 2012. And since then, 99 million rural poor have been lifted from poverty through an US$800 billion initiative. One caveat: China sets its standard of extreme poverty far below the World Bank’s measure.
International jet-setting hasn’t exactly been top of mind for many lately, but Norway is ready. The country’s National Police Directorate partnered with Neue Design Studio for a redesign of the Norwegian passport last year, both to beef up security and to revamp bland, boring government docs into a visual feast. To imbue “a sense of belonging and connection across age, gender and regions,” Neue leaned into the country’s deep-rooted relationship with nature, not just for its beauty but also for its power to fuel clean hydroelectric power and other industries. Innovative security measures developed during the six-year project include a Northern Lights-inspired watermark revealed under UV light and a color-coding cover system that delineates different categories of users at a glance.
Government offices can look fairly glum by default, but UAE design studio Roar upended those usual expectations with its whimsical design for the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority. Yes, the space had to fulfill the professional needs of the 100-person team of child education specialists, but it also had to reinforce their mission: promoting the development and well-being of kids eight years old and younger. The goal? Childlike, but not childish. The result? A new HQ featuring bright colors, organically shaped collaboration hubs and playful artwork that evokes kid drawings. Future designers, take note: The bar has been raised.