Students & Campus
26 November 2021

Team from Yale University Wins 2021 Geneva Challenge on Crisis Management

The 2021 edition of the Geneva Challenge invited teams of graduate students from academic programmes all over the world to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the challenges of crisis management.

The Advancing Development Goals International Student Competition | Retrospective

Out of 83 project entries submitted by 333 students, 17 teams were chosen as semi-finalists. The jury then selected five finalist teams, one per continent (based on the location of the university), who then defended their projects in at the Graduate Institute. 

This year’s winner is the team from Yale University with their Project “BuyBy”. Project Buyby is a software-based marketplace app that enables farmers to sell crop stubbles and other by-products to generate alternative income rather than burning them.

“We try to offer farmers an incentive to not just burn the by-products but to show that these have actual value and can be utilised and sold instead”, said team spokesperson Maximilian Schubert, master student at the Yale School of the Environment, speaking with Geneva Solutions.

He also added that the project offers a grassroots solution, addressing a severe problem of the climate crisis. The BuyBy team wants to promote the principle of a “circular economy” with their project, using the output of one sector as an input to another.

Other winners included teams from Latin America (Project Motirõ São Paulo: The Learning Network for Crisis Response) and Asia (Project DAAN: Connecting concepts and paving a food secure Philippines), which were each awarded second prize ex aequo. The teams from Africa (Project WADABA Water Data Bank) and Europe (Project ARDE' - How to manage climate change crisis one meal at a time) were each awarded third prize ex aequo.

A special prize was also attributed in partnership with Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth (SDSN Youth) – to a team with members from the Stanford University for their project “Flood Mapping Project: A Resilient Flood Sensing System for Equitable Disaster Response”.

In her introductory remarks during the award ceremony, Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Graduate Institute, stressed that, “the many crises that the world faces undermine human security, exacerbate inequalities, and hold back the global development goals agenda”. She added, “the management of today’s crisis must go beyond the one-size-fits-all schemes and requires an interdisciplinary lens”.

Professor Jeffery Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, discussed the intersections between sustainable development, the climate crisis, and the pandemic recovery, especially the role that youth and universities can play as we move forward.

Reflecting on the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he referred to young people are changing the politics and the practicalities of action, and emphasised the power of innovation in advancing the SDGs.

Professor Sachs’ speech was followed by a conversation with Martina Viarengo, Associate Professor of Economics and Chair of the Academic Steering Committee for the Geneva Challenge.

In his congratulatory speech, Mr Michael Møller, President of the Jury, announced the theme for the ninth edition of the Geneva Challenge, which will be "The Challenges of Poverty Reduction".

Global extreme poverty rose in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years as the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the forces of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing poverty reduction progress.

The complex endeavour of overcoming global poverty is something that the world isn’t finished with yet. Poverty alleviation efforts are also an essential part of realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Thus the Advancing Development Goals Contest of 2022 calls upon graduate students from around the world to develop innovative solutions that address the global challenge of poverty reduction.

The Geneva Challenge, created thanks to the vision and generosity of Swiss Ambassador Jenö Staehelin and under the patronage of late Kofi Annan, is an annual contest, which encourages master students to bridge the gap between their studies and real development policy by developing devise innovative and practical proposals for effecting change.