First amazing day here in Istanbul and you can feel the excitement building at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia. What is already clear is that after the Arab Spring and with all the economic and political changes, the time and place for this event is right. Istanbul – consistent with its history – is positioned as a central hub between Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This is a huge opportunity of cultural confluence.

Today, we worked in a session preparing for Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development that will be held later this month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 20 years after the groundbreaking Earth Summit held there in 1992. 

One participant characterized the upcoming event with Aristotle in mind: It’s all about Earth (food supply), Air (clean air), Water (how to replenish our clean water sources which are running out) and Fire (energy). We all agreed that we need to forget about the lines on the maps and view the world as astronauts do –with no lines, no maps, just one world. We also need one goal, set sincerely, rationally and based on facts and figures. Have we made progress in 20 years? Absolutely. But, it’s not enough. It is now time for further action and clear targets for the next 20 years. 

One concrete example for energy is the wireless industry. Today, we build mobile networks using big towers, which visually pollute our landscapes and skylines and are incredibly energy inefficient – 99.99% of the energy emitted by a tower will never reach a mobile. How do we solve this problem? Through open innovation and co-creation.

Greentouch is an industry and academic consortium which has set out to provide the theoretical and experiential backing for a 1,000-fold improvement over 10 years. With lightRadio, we make the first commercial product step and can reduce power by 50%. Part of the innovation is to use many easy to install small cells using small radio cubes.

More to come on all of this in the next few days.

Wim Sweldens, President, Wireless Division, Alcatel-Lucent, USA

Pictured: A mobile phone tower is seen behind a man carrying a pick over his shoulder on the outskirts of Beijing. REUTERS/David Gray