Geneva Challenge
29 September 2021

Geneva Challenge 2021 Finalists – The Challenges of Crisis Management

Each year, the Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students invites teams of graduate students from all academic programmes to devise innovative and pragmatic solutions to key international issues. The eighth edition of the Geneva Challenge – Advancing Development Goals Contest – addressed “The Challenges of Crisis Management”, inviting innovative, cross-cutting proposals on the management of today’s crises.

269 teams composed of 1,094 graduate students from 115 different nationalities, registered to take part in the 2021 Geneva Challenge. 83 project entries were submitted by 333 students from teams hailing from all over the world, with 17 semi-finalists teams. This year, the Jury Panel chose five finalist teams, one per continent:

Team from Africa: Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences

  • WADABA: Water Data Bank. Water pollution is a major concern in crowded urban environments like the city of Likasi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This city happens to be a practical example of a locality where pollution created by a single individual can mean putting residents at risk of poor sanitation and hygiene. This project consists of creating a database on some key physical, chemical and biological parameters that will allow the determining and monitoring of water pollution. The project will also involve citizens in aspects of citizen science, creating some level of awareness of their rights, and informing them of the possible remedies to claim respect for health and safety standards. This area is vulnerable to the effects of economic activities such as mining, especially on water resources, and therefore it is critical to have up-to-date information and data covering records of all economic activities affecting major water sources of the area. This project hence employs citizen science together with other techniques to address the problem under study.

Team from Asia: University of Saskatchewan, National Chengchi University

  • DAAN: Connecting concepts and paving a food-secure Philippines. This project proposes a solution to the crises of food insecurity and malnutrition in the National Capital Region of the Philippines (NCR). It draws from Singapore’s strategies in maintaining food system resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Philippine government’s historical trend of digital transformation to propose DAAN: a smartphone application that utilizes Bluetooth based authentication to speed up the checkpoint passing process and keep track of food stock flows. DAAN digitises the Philippines’ “Food Pass” to promote systemic coordination, efficient logistics and data driven planning to reduce food waste and food prices. Ultimately, DAAN aims to contribute to achieving SDG 2 by enhancing food system resiliency for food security and proper nutrition, which would decrease the vulnerabilities and risk to future crises of NCR.

Team from Europe: Università degli Studi di Torino, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Padova

  • ARDE' - How to manage climate change crisis one meal at a time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food delivery industry has gained popularity since most of the population was restrained at home and restaurants were closed to the public. The downside is that almost every delivery system works with non-reusable (and often non-recyclable) containers, increasing the waste production that impacts the environment. This project analysed data from pre-existing research on the topic and from an anonymous survey, which investigated the respondents' interest in a more sustainable solution regarding food delivery packaging. ARDE’, a food delivery app, was developed based on a circular system with the implementation of reusable food containers to decrease the waste generated by the usage of disposable materials. With this app, people could order food and receive it in reusable stainless-steel containers that will be then returned during the next food order. With this system, the pollution would be considerably decreased without damaging the post-COVID-19 food delivery market. The collective consciousness would also be impacted, and more people would get closer to sustainable solutions for their everyday habits. Let’s manage the climate change crisis one meal at a time!

Team from North America and Oceania: Yale University

  • BuyBy. An urgent crisis facing developing countries is deteriorating health due to increasingly contaminated air. Globally, the death toll mounts to 7 million people--more than 19,000 a day. A major driver of air pollution, soil degradation and climate change is the burning of residual stubbles after crop harvest, a common agricultural management method practiced worldwide by small- and medium-holder farmers. To discourage open stubble burning and popularise a circular approach to agricultural management, BuyBy, an easy-access and trustworthy software marketplace, enables and incentivises farmers to sell these crop stubbles and other by-products to generate alternative income.

Team from South America: São Paulo State University, London School of Economics and Political Science, São Paulo State University, Université Clermont Auvergne, Federal University of São Paulo

  • Motirõ São Paulo. The Learning Network for Crisis Response. The COVID-19 pandemic was extremely impactful for Brazilian society. The main argument of this project is based upon two premises: i) the resilience and understanding of the community level is a requirement to impede any crisis to become broader and deeper, and ii) based on the Motirõ’s meaning, cooperation is the best way to achieve truly impactful solutions. Motirõ São Paulo is the first and one-of-a-kind online network functioning in São Paulo focused on the improvement of response mechanisms for crisis via a bottom-up approach, resulting in the empowerment of community leaders. Moreover, the network aims at developing epistemic communities with the capacity to identify the main lessons derived from the COVID-19 pandemic. This knowledge will be mobilised to empower community leaders in São Paulo to better answer emerging crises, but also to provide a wide range of knowledge on crisis management at the most important level of any society: its population.

The Award Ceremony for the 2021 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students will be held in Geneva, at Maison de la Paix, on Tuesday 16 November following a keynote address by the eminent economist, author and global leader in sustainable development, Professor Jeffrey Sachs. The oral presentations of the finalist teams will take place on the same day from 13:30 to 16:30.

This year’s winning project will be awarded CHF 10,000; the two teams in second place will receive CHF 5,000 each and the two teams in third place, CHF 2,500 each.

More details about all five projects and further information on this year’s Challenge can be found on our website.
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