Incentive Prize on
Incentives for Sustainability
Yun Family Foundation is proud to sponsor the Incentive Prize on Incentives for Sustainability (“The Challenge”).
An ecosystem in which inhabitants produce synthetic materials at a rate that exceeds its rate of degradation is unsustainable. Moreover, if the products of degradation perturb ecological equilibria beyond boundaries of self-stability, planetary sustainability is at risk.
Numerous reports contend that the Anthropocene Era is on an unsustainable trajectory. This has sparked many worthy remediation efforts, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Nonetheless, global industrial production is projected to continue to grow.
Incentive innovations to address these issues are already part of the sustainability movement. Examples include carbon credit systems and redemptions programs to encourage recycling. Yet the sum total of these efforts are thought to be insufficient to thwart the momentum towards ecological decline.
What are novel incentive innovations that can be leveraged to redirect the collective output of the Anthropocene era towards a sustainable future? The Challenge is an effort to nurture and reward incentive ideas that can help steer the Anthropocene Era towards an equilibrium between industrial production and degradation in a sustainable way.
The Challenge is an idea contest, in the form of a well-conceived proposal, and not an execution contest. It puts the onus of change not on products but on how we behave. It is our belief a one page proposal—which requires little more than human creativity, a few keystrokes, and negligible combustion of hydrocarbons—can alter planetary sustainability more than any product innovation can.
The Challenge will run from October 15, 2021 to December 15, 2021, and a select number of winners will be chosen to receive US $5,000 each for the best proposals submitted in accordance with the terms set forth herein. The deadline for the submissions is November 15, 2021. The winners will be contacted directly via email after December 15, 2021.
Qualified applicants should submit a written proposal of no more than 5000 characters (about 800 words) in the Proposal section of the Registration Form below.
The proposals should address the following questions:
- Indicate in one or two sentences the essence of your idea.
- Why is your idea an unconventional or creative approach to the problem of sustainability?
- In what ways does the existing system exhibit perverse incentives or misalignment of interests with respect to planetary balancing of production and degradation?
- In what ways does the proposed innovation reflect inclusive stakeholding (with specific attention paid to the commons as stakeholders), alignment of interests, vested interdependent interests, and goal congruence?
- In what ways would the proposed innovation improve the well-being of individuals, immediate communities, and planetary sustainability?
- What are the potential risks, including outlier risks, of the proposed innovation?
- What is a potential implementation and distribution strategy for the proposed innovation?
Participants are asked to write cogently, clearly, and creatively about their policy idea or commercial strategy idea. Participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and to challenge existing social norms and paradigms.
Here are a couple examples of incentive innovation:
- Create “In My Back Yard” (IMBY) laws that prohibit the shipment of waste outside of the neighborhood (such as not crossing county lines). That the benefits of consumption are decoupled from its negative consequences is a central problem of sustainability. The average person who benefits from consumption is largely unaware of the externalities arising from consumption, including the accumulation of harmful waste in the commons. If citizens had to landfill in their own backyards or neighborhoods, it would alter their consumption behaviors. Such policies could motivate local citizens to work together to solve waste management as a local community problem. A cap-and-trade system could further be developed to allow the counties to work together at the state level.
- Create term limits on corporate charters. Self-feeding dynamic of corporate power is a major impediment to planetary sustainability. The way nature deters feed-forward accumulation of power by individuals is through limited lifespans. Estate taxes and political term limits are examples of social innovations that help continually decentralize power. Similar intent towards corporations was evident in our nation’s founding. Until the late 19th century, companies lived under statutes of limitations on their corporate charters. However, a race to the bottom competition among states led to Delaware creating legal innovations that offered corporations permanent lifespans. Naturally, not to be left behind, other states followed suit. Reintroducing statutes of limitations on corporations, in the form of laws that enable corporate senescence or term limits, can deter self-accumulating tendencies of corporate power, mitigate the development of corpocracies, and allow redistribution of assets and employees into new endeavors.
– Am I allowed to enter multiple times with multiple different ideas?
No, applicants are only allowed to submit one entry. Please submit your best idea.
– Is there any expectation that I will use the prize money to implement my idea if I win?
No, there is no expectation that the prize money will be used to implement the idea.
– I would prefer not to submit my exact age / date of birth in the form. What should I do?
If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, you are required to submit your exact date of birth in order to request permission from your parent or guardian. If you are 18 years old or older and would prefer not to disclose your exact date of birth, you may enter 01/01/1931 into the field.
– Where are you advertising the contest?
Incentive Prize on Incentives is being advertised and publicized through a select number of media outlets and distribution partners.
– How many entries do you anticipate?
We don’t know how many entries will be submitted, but we do not expect an inordinate number of submissions at this point.
– Are non-US citizens allowed to submit an application?
Unfortunately, only submissions from US citizens will be considered.