Climate innovators prepare for 24-hour global ‘hackathon’

Students, entrepreneurs and policymakers from around the world are trying to find solutions to climate change problems today (June 18) as part of a global hackathon-style event organised by the EU's climate innovation group, Climate-KIC.

Participants across six continents in more than a dozen major cities, including London and Birmingham in the UK, are to work together for 24 hours on local climate change challenges, ranging from rising sea levels and air quality to biodiversity and zero waste.

While diplomats continue working towards December’s major climate change conference in Paris, the winners of the ‘Climathon’ will have the chance to present their solutions during the summit.

Climate-KIC’s director for education Ebrahim Mohamed said: “At Climate-KIC, we constantly look for the best ideas. We then focus on training the talent to scale up those ideas to solutions with high impact.

“With governments from around the world scheduled to meet at the COP21 (the UN climate change conference) summit here in Europe, now is the time to empower citizens to take action and find solutions. We also need to find new ways to deal with climate change that is already occurring.”

Local focus

The global hackathon will focus in each city on predefined local climate change challenges, such as in Washington D.C., where participants will consider how public-private partnerships can reduce food waste. Solutions could include products, apps, policy recommendations and more.

Meghan Chapple, director at the office of sustainability at George Washington University said: “In our nation’s capital we still have work to do to turn local waste into resources. Solid waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

“We are inviting students, professionals, designers and entrepreneurs to develop inspiring solutions that we can put into practice.”

The best team in each city will receive coaching and support from Climate-KIC to progress their idea with help from the city itself. The best teams globally will have the chance to present their ideas on the world stage in Paris.

Participating cities

In the UK, participants in London and Birmingham will be working on local sustainability issues.

London teams will be expected to find solutions to problems such as collecting air pollution data, improving community links for growing sustainable food and exploring how London can make better use of energy from waste.

In Birmingham, participants have been set the challenge: “What is the role of the citizen in zero waste Birmingham.”

Climate-KIC CEO Bertrand van Ee said ahead of the Climathon: “It is crucial to bring change close to where people are, to our cities. That is why we are bringing together citizens of major cities on six continents this week.

“Our Climathon aims to find local solutions to global challenges and empower people to take action, whether they are in New Zealand, Ethiopia or Finland. We need to start locally in order to go global.”

Matt Field

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