The Geneva Challenge 2018:

SDSN Youth Special Prize

On the occasion of the 2018 Geneva Challenge, the SDSN Youth Special Prize is awarded in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth (SDSN Youth) to the project "Enhanced Sustainable Concrete: Combining Existing Technologies in a Novel Manner to Promote the Sustainable Development of Water and Concrete Industries Worldwide".

Their project, as well as the ones of the finalist teams, will be showcased on the Youth Solutions Report platform. Through its activities and initiatives, which benefit from SDSN's network of institutional partners, experts, private companies and media outlets, SDSN Youth facilitates the dissemination of promising youth-led solutions, giving them additional fora to showcase their work and opportunities to draw interest from potential supporters. In turn, this helps investors, donors and supporters better understand the multi-faceted role of young people in the 2030 Agenda.

This great opportunity will provide the teams with a powerful tool that addresses the difficulties faced in securing funding, building capacities, communicating their experience and ultimately scaling their efforts.


Enhanced Sustainable Concrete - Combining existing technologies in a novel manner to promote the sustainable development of water and concrete industries worldwide

Team from North America ¦ University of Toronto

The integration of existing technologies in concrete science and water desalination is a project that will allow developing countries to promote economic and infrastructure development, while mitigating impacts to the environment. The objective is to recycle reject brine produced from water desalination processes and combine it with emerging bioconcrete technologies to produce enhanced sustainable concrete, which can be used in a variety of structures. By substituting the potable water used in concrete mixtures for reject brine, more water is available for consumption in areas with limited drinking water access, and virtually eliminates the need for costly brine management and disposal in the marine environment. Simultaneously, scientific evidence shows that brine can enhance concrete quality. When mixed with concrete that uses recycled waste aggregates and bacterial amendments for self-healing, it produces enhanced sustainable bioconcrete that is cost-effective, stronger, more durable and produces significantly less carbon emissions than conventional concrete mixes.

This novel integrated bioconcrete technology will improve the quality of infrastructure that requires less rehabilitation and repair, thereby preventing significant costs to municipalities. Developing such a project will allow vulnerable societies to be more resilient to climate change by increasing access or developing new sources of potable water through water desalination, as well as limiting issues in poor infrastructure by promoting sustainable and durable structural materials. As previously mentioned, this project will also mitigate carbon emissions produced by concrete and water desalination industries.

This type of project is particularly needed in a context of social and economic development where water scarcity remains unsolved in many regions of the world, which will be exacerbated by climate change. Sites where the project could be implemented will be assessed under particular considerations to develop the most suitable programs for the implementation of enhanced sustainable bioconcrete, taking into account site specificity and current circumstances. Overall, the application of this project aims to advance multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including, Clean Water and Sanitation; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Life Below Water; Sustainable Cities and Communities; and Responsible Consumption and production.


Kimberly Asemota.png  

Kimberly Asemota is a recent graduate for the Master in Environmental Science at the University of Toronto, specializing in biophysical interactions in terrestrial and aquatic systems. Her master’s thesis is focused on Air Quality and Monitoring of PCB contamination on sites all around the globe, which is a part of the Stockholm Convention mandate and coordinated by the GAPS Network. Kimberly has a BSc in Chemistry from York University, specializing in Analytical Chemistry.

David -2.jpg  

David Aceituno-Caicedo is a recent graduate from the Master of Environmental Science program at the University of Toronto, specializing in biophysical interactions in terrestrial and aquatic systems. His studies focused on contaminated site management and he has worked in the Canadian Government, assisting with environmental programs as well as planned assessment and remediation projects. David has a BSc in Life Science from McMaster University, emphasizing interdisciplinary applications in scientific research.

Blandine Barthod.jpg  

Blandine Barthod is a recent graduate from the Master in Environmental Science at the University of Geneva, specializing in water science and including a one-year exchange program at the University of Toronto. Her master’s thesis focuses on algal blooms in Lake of The Woods, with a particular interest on the sediment geochemistry and the mechanisms controlling internal phosphorus loading. Blandine has a BA in International Relations from the University of Geneva, specializing in Political Science and Economics.