Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

The Toilet Revolution


Politicians and philanthropists often talk about abstract, lofty ideas such as sustainability and transformation through dialogue. So Bill Gates and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be applauded for tackling a more mundane, but crucial, subject: toilets.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to transform toilet technology itself, so that toilets aren’t dependent on major infrastructure, such as sewage systems and water-treatment plants. In 2011, the Gates Foundation launched its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, which provides grants for researchers “who are using innovative approaches – based on fundamental engineering processes – for the safe and sustainable management of human waste.” The hope is that twenty-first-century toilets will convert human waste into energy, fertilizer, or even drinkable water.

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Project Syndicate