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Postcard From Paris: Meet The Matchmaker Of Clean Technology


The United Nations climate summit in Paris has brought together world leaders, activists, movie stars. All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro is also there. And he met a kind of matchmaker.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: The matchmaker is a diplomat from Finland named Jukka Uosukainen. Nobody calls him by his last name.

JUKKA UOSUKAINEN: I'm Mr. Jukka, it's OK.

SHAPIRO: Mr. Jukka runs a U.N. project called the Climate Technology Center and Network. It's more interesting than it sounds. Think of it as eHarmony meets the Butterball Thanksgiving helpline - for clean technology.

UOSUKAINEN: We have now more than 40 countries who have submitted requests to us.

SHAPIRO: Here's how it works. A country calls and says, I need help figuring out a clean waste-disposal system, or a way to manage floods. Jukka finds a nearby country with that expertise and makes a match. The first request came in from Chile a year ago. They wanted a good way to monitor changes in the national parks that could be caused by global warming. He hooked them up with a group in Costa Rica. And he's gotten requests from some surprising places.

UOSUKAINEN: So we are serving, for example, Afghanistan. We have been getting requests from Syria. So...

SHAPIRO: What kinds of requests do you get from Afghanistan and Syria?

UOSUKAINEN: They want to also start working with the climate convention. They want to know what are their technology priorities.

SHAPIRO: One early request came from the small, mountainous nation of Bhutan.

UOSUKAINEN: Car monitoring (ph), working in the National Environment Commission - the royal government of Bhutan.

SHAPIRO: He wanted help setting up a clean public transportation network.

UOSUKAINEN: They have selected this to take place in the capital city of Thimphu, which is growing very fast.

SHAPIRO: The U.N. matchmakers connected Bhutan with nearby Thailand.

SURACHAI SATHITKUNARAT: My name is Surachai Sathitkunarat. I'm Thailand national designated entities.

SHAPIRO: He told the folks from Bhutan, we'll show you what to do and also what not to do. For what not to do, just look at our capital city, Bangkok.

SATHITKUNARAT: We have a huge program about the traffic.

SHAPIRO: For what to do, check out the city of Chang Mai in northern Thailand.

SATHITKUNARAT: We introduced a light rail transit in the city also.

SHAPIRO: So with that match done, Thailand came back to Jukka the matchmaker and said, we have a few problems of our own that we would like some help with - flood control, clean public street lighting. At the Climate Technology Center and Network, Mr. Jukka is working on finding the perfect match. At the U.N. climate summit in Paris, this is Ari Shapiro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
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