The Straits Times joins global newspaper effort, new features on world challenges

Next week, The Straits Times' Saturday section is going to look a little different.

Instead of the regular features, we will be running a series of reports on how countries and people across the globe have come up with inspiring ideas and innovations to solve problems, big and small.

These range from ideas on how to make cities more sustainable environmentally or how to turn traffic congestion into sources of energy, to innovations like low-cost, self-adjusting spectacles to help tackle myopia in poor countries, and Singapore's novel recycling efforts to deal with its shortage of water.

This focus on solutions to some of the challenges the world faces is part of the first global Impact Journalism Day, set for June 22.

Some 20 newspapers from around the world have come together for this joint project, and will run stories that they have filed in each of their papers on the same day.

The articles, which will come with online offerings such as video clips and interactive graphics, come from major newspapers such as France's Le Monde, Italy's La Stampa, Denmark's Politiken, the Times of India, China's Caixin, and, of course, The Straits Times. Dailies from Algeria, Lebanon, Brazil and Kenya, among other nations, are also on board.

Driving the effort is Sparknews, a social start-up made up of media professionals that aims to help solve the world's problems through the media.

Founded by Frenchman Christian de Boisredon in 2011, it runs an open-source website that collects and shares news articles.

"We all know that 'bad news' must be reported. But right now, readers are hungry for other stories, stories of bright ideas that spark change, both locally and globally. Change they can identify with and participate in," he said.

In 2007, Mr de Boisredon challenged French newspaper Liberation to come up with a special edition devoted to solutions. The issue sold well, and the paper has turned it into an annual affair.

So Sparknews decided to expand the idea to cover 20 newspapers in 20 countries to publish special supplements of "under-reported but utterly inspiring" articles on creative solutions to world issues on the same day.

"All have the 'feel good' factor but, more importantly, they all work in the real world. And make it a better place to live," it said.

In Singapore, The Straits Times will be reporting on solutions to local as well as regional issues in the Saturday section.

Its editor Warren Fernandez said the paper had decided to join the effort as countries face common challenges and can learn from solutions elsewhere.

"The ideas and contributions of many of those featured are inspiring, and show what can be achieved when minds are focused on finding solutions, and working together to make things happen."