30 November 2018

Columbia University Team Wins 2018 Geneva Challenge on Climate Change

The Geneva Challenge was launched in 2014 under the patronage of the late Kofi Annan and with the generous support of Ambassador Jenö Staehelin. This contest aims to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the main challenges of today’s world.

This year’s theme was to explore how challenges posed by climate change could be tackled to foster social and economic development. Out of 66 project entries submitted by 259 students from teams hailing from all over the world, 15 teams were chosen as semi-finalists. The jury then selected five finalist teams, one per continent, who were invited to defend their project at the Institute.

This year’s winner is the team from Columbia University with their project: Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding (DASH). This project aims to create a blueprint for utilising big data and applying machine learning and artificial intelligence for better decision-making under deep uncertainty. It will disrupt the traditional approach to international development and public policy-making by unpacking the complexity of the modern-day herding, farming, and land-use nexus.

Other laureates included the teams from BRAC University and ETH Zürich, which were each awarded second prize ex aequo, and the teams from Kenyatta University and the University of Buenos Aires, which were each awarded third prize ex aequo.

The prizes were given out by Mrs Nane Annan, widow of Mr Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and high patron of the Geneva Challenge, who passed away recently.

This year, a special prize was also attributed in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth (SDSN Youth) to the team from the University of Toronto for its project ("Enhanced Sustainable Concrete: Combining Existing Technologies in a Novel Manner to Promote the Sustainable Development of Water and Concrete Industries Worldwide").

In his congratulatory speech, Swiss Ambassador, Jenö Staehelin, announced the theme for the sixth edition of the Geneva Challenge: the Challenges of Health. He stated that “many more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different, persistent and emerging health issues”.

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See the projects from the Geneva Challenge 2018 finalists.

Watch the entire Award Ceremony.

Watch the Geneva Challenge 2018 finalist team interviews:
North America / Oceania | Columbia University
Asia | BRAC University
Europe | ETH Zürich
Africa | Kenyatta University
South America | University of Buenos Aires

Watch the interview with the recipients of the SDSN Youth Special Prize.