INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT ZINSER FOR SDG #1

Robert Zinser

Chief Executive Officer Emeritus

ROTARY ACTION GROUP FOR REPRODUCTIVE, MATERNAL & CHILD HEALTH

Robert Zinser

Chief Executive Officer Emeritus

Author Biography

Since 1978 Robert Zinser is member of RC Ludwigshafen-Rheinschanze, implemented several projects in Nigeria, Pakistan and Uruguay and served as chairman of international and of world community service in D1860. In 1994/1995 he served as District-Governor. At the RI Assembly in 1994 he met DGE Dolapo Lufadeju, Nigeria, implemented with him from 1995-2000 the Pilot-Project “Child Spacing and Family Health” in Kaduna State, Nigeria, and cofounded 1996 with him and PDG Buck Lindsay the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development. Together with Past District Governor Lufa-deju PDG Zinser initiated the scaling up of the pilot project with a 3-H grant from 2000-2005 in six states of Northern Nigeria.

He started and coordinated the large-scale project Improvement of Maternal Health Prevention and Treatment of Obstetric Fistula in Kaduna and Kano State 2005-2010, is advisor of its 1st scaling up project and coordinator of its 2nd scaling up project in Enugu state, Nigeria. Zinser received 1996 the RI Service Above Self Award, was Member of RI Committees as well as Chair-man of RI-UNFPA Presidential Conference World Population Growth and Development in Zurich 2000. He served as Treasurer, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of RFPD served as Chief Executive Officer of Rotarian Action Group for Maternal and Child Health (RMCH) and is presently Chief Executive Offi-cer (CEO) Emeritus of RMCH.Robert Zinser studied Economic Sciences and made his career in BASF, a chemical company. For 15 years he was President of BASF in Asia.

He is Honorary Professor for “International Management” at the university Giessen and was honored with the “Officers Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and “The Order of Diplomatic Service Merit” of the Republic of Korea.

Q1. What was your company’s unique approach in integrating technology to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)?

The implementation and integration of technology in our projects helps us further our objectives to make progress in SDGs 3 and 5. For example to ensure relevance, action, equality and equity, community and stakeholder meetings will be organized in inclusive safe environments, ensuring communication matches audience time schedules to successfully receive information. Linguistic diversity will be addressed through producing messages of different languages as well as using technology that supports the blind, deaf and mute.

RMCH and its partners have worked both technically and financially, for the development of over 10 radio serial dramas, for the improvement of the health and well-being of Nigerians, particularly women and girls. These dramas have each addressed multiple health and social issues including reproductive health/family planning, obstetric fistula, early marriage, and gender equity, among others. Positive attitude and behavior changes related to these themes have been recorded amongst the diverse audiences across Nigeria.

 

Q2. What are some examples of SDG-focused projects that your company is currently working on?

SDG Focused projects that are currently under implementation are “Saving lives of mothers and newborns in Nigeria” with the aims of reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by 25% by 2025 and reaching 2.3 million people with key messages and services. Our proposal to address this problem is through the Social Behavioral Change (SBC) Model. It is a human centered design approach will be adopted to develop SBC interventions that drive health seeking behavior, ensure respectful care from health workers, encourage community participation, and achieve commitments for sustainability from policy makers.

 

Q3. What are the most difficult challenges your company and other companies face generally in the implementation/adoption of new sustainable technology?

Our most difficult challenge is the ability to fund our projects. Ideally it would be great to integrate solar powered panels in the training centers for nurses and midwives, lowering the electricity costs and accessing clean green energy. Additionally, we are currently working with a partner organization in implementing a certified carbon credit program with family planning at its core, but this also requires significant funding. Since Rotary is an organization which receives its funding from private donations and member fees, most of the time we are obligated to lobby to companies, organizations, and governments as alternative sources of funds.

 

Q4. Tell me about a time your sustainable tech helped another company realize their SDG goals.

Now we do not yet have a detailed answer for this question and would appreciate if we were given a couple of more days’ time to give you a proper answer.

 

Q5. What is the biggest challenge your company has handled while enabling your sustain-able tech accessible to different communities?

Family planning technologies have evolved over the years, but the challenges concern distribution.

When it comes to the provision of family planning technology in our Nigeria project, we occasionally run into issues due to the remoteness of certain villages and the poor road infrastructure. When this is combined with the biggest challenge we face, namely the social constructs regarding the benefits of having many children and religious leaders’ ability to influence and magnify such constructs, in turn creates a difficult environment for the efficient distribution of family planning aids.

 

Q6. Cost effective sustainable tech can be lifesaving and planet saving approach. What actions your company takes to make your sustainable tech economical and a fit for the large scale adoption?

In the future we would like to prioritize the digitalization of family planning services. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially in a developing country such as Nigeria. But with the help of our partners at Rotary headquarters, the BMZ (Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development), PMC (Population Media Center), and the Nigerian Government we are confident we can take significant steps in the right direction. By way of cofounding in future projects we hope to integrate digital adaption kits (DAKs) developed by the WHO into Nigeria’s health system. DAKs are designed to ensure that WHO clinical, public health, and data usage standards are accurately reflected in the digital systems that countries are implementing.

According to Nancy Kidula, a medical officer in the WHO Regional Office for Africa “the DAK for Family Planning is a much-needed resource, standardizing the adaptation process and ensuring that evidence-based guidance will be available for health care workers including those in remotest areas, provided they have access to a mobile phone.

 

Q7. What do you believe will be a global, long term impact of your sustainable tech integration?

We hope that the implementation of such technologies will then create waves and spread out into neighboring areas as well as other countries. The favorable impacts of such efforts in modernizing health systems will encourage other policymakers and actors to assist and guide in the implementation process of these kits so that health care providers have up-to-date knowledge and WHO guidelines, ultimately improving lives and mother and child health. This will contribute to the empowerment of women, longer happier lives of mothers and their babies, and a more sustainable population development in a country which is already the most populous in Africa.

 

Q8. What’s your vision for the sustainable tech industry and your company’s role in it?

As we are geared toward Maternal and Child Health our wish for the future is that the sustainable tech industry creates more tools to aid us and other organizations in our mission to improve the lives of current and future generations. We will work alongside future breakthroughs in sustainable technology and will do the utmost to find financing sources and implement projects in mother and child health that use newer, cleaner, and more sustainable technologies.

Female Empowerment in the Digital Age

Dr. Laura Bechthold is a social scientist and innovation professional from Munich. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedrichshafen Institute for Family Entrepreneurship at Zeppelin University, she works on questions regarding responsibility and decision paradigms of family entrepreneurs. As the Director of Science Services at Philoneos GmbH, she supports family fi rms in establishing organizational structures for innovation. Laura holds a BA in Business Administration (Zeppelin University), a Master of Business Research (LMU Munich) and an MSc in Sustainability Science and Policy (Maastricht University). Her PhD research focused on unconscious biases in female entrepreneurship. Her fi eld experimental study on female entrepreneurial role models was awarded twice at international conferences. Laura’s passion lies in building bridges between science and practice to foster an open dialogue and co-create solutions for an inclusive, sustainable and prospering society. Therefore, she contributes to EUTECH by writing about entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities for contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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