The 2021 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students aims to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the challenges of crisis management.

Currently, as the world faces unparalleled levels of challenges, there seems to be no end to the many crises that permeate borders, such as, world hunger, poverty, conflict, climate shocks, migration, unemployment and more recently the pandemic, we are currently facing.

While these crises may affect and slow down the progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, they also provide new opportunities to make progress towards the Development Goals. Responding to these crises requires both a global response and sustainable efforts at the local and national levels to tailor strategies and response mechanisms that resolve current crises and avert future ones. With much uncertainty, spewed by crises around the world, the ‘Advancing Development Goals Contest’ calls upon graduate students from around the globe to embrace these crises as opportunities and devise innovative solutions to effectively manage them and advance the development goals.

Call for applications 2021

Rules and Regulations 2021

Finalists of the 2021 Geneva Challenge


Team from Africa


Project WADABA: Water Data Bank

Water pollution is a major concern in the crowded urban environments like the city of Likasi, DRC, happens to be a practical example of a locality where pollution created by a single individual can meet many others, placing all residents at risks 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 the pollution of water resources. The project will also involve citizens in aspects of citizen science, creating some level of awareness in word and in action, their rights and informing them of the possible remedies to claim respect for the standards. This area is vulnerable to the effects of economic activities such as mining, especially on their water resources and is 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.


Project WADABA

Team from Africa


Benjamin Bonkoungou is currently pursuing his Master in Water Engineering at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES), Algeria. Prior to joining PAUWES, he majored in Environmental Engineering from Erciyes University, Turkey; and has worked on a couple of development projects. Benjamin is from Burkina Faso.


Crésus Hammer Kodongo Ndrou is a multi-talented engineer of Central African origin. He is currently training at Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES), Algeria where he does water engineering. Always in search of knowledge, he has proven himself in the field of rural hydraulics, before working as a Wash Facilitator and as Responsible of the sustainable project at the National Agency of Water and Sanitation in Central Africa.


Ewube Kelly Laure Egbe is an AU Scholar studying Water Policy at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences including climate change PAUWES Algeria and currently researching on Climate Change and WASH within rural communities. She obtained a BSc in Geography from the University of Buea, Buea-Cameroon. She is a robust and dynamic young fellow of Geography and Policy Issues interested in social and environmental problems such as plastic wastes solutions.


Brendaline Shieke Nkenen is a PAUWES student in the water engineering track with an Agricultural and environmental engineering Bsc background. She has experience with NGOs as a volunteer focused on fighting against food insecurity which comes from food shortages and low-quality produce. she was a member of the Next Water Generation Action. She is currently researching on the risks and opportunities in rice production in Cameroon through a water productivity. approach using remote sensing data.


Christian Murhula Shaburwa is an African Union Scholar from D.R.Congo and currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Policy at Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. Christian studied Process Engineering during his undergraduate at Djilali Liabes University, Algeria. Interested in entrepreneurship, Christian was the third winner of the HultPrize. competition at his university in 2019.

Team from Asia


Project 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 digitizes 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.


Project DAAN

Team from Asia


Brigitte is passionate about sustainability issues such as food, energy and water security, and believes that human agency, development, education, and empowerment are key to sustainable lifestyles and futures. She has worked as a teacher, business development officer for a solar company, and capacity development associate for the UNDP. Her current research in the University of Saskatchewan focuses on the social value of community renewable energy systems. She is an advocate for quality education for all, women empowerment, and companion animal welfare.


Arlene is currently pursuing an International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) at National Chengchi University, Taiwan. After graduating from Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Science in Management of Applied Chemistry, she started her career as a procurement professional, working in various industries ranging from a small-to-medium enterprises to a multinational company, to deliver cost savings through process efficiencies. Her interest in creating sustainable businesses led her to pursue her MBA. Her research interest is on procurement’s pivotal role in sustainable business models.


Inez graduated from the Singapore Management University with a degree in Information Systems and Corporate Communications. Her passion in information technology spurred her to embark on the Geneva Challenge as she seeks to bring digital solutions to help the greater community. Inez is currently pursuing her International Masters of Business Administration at the National Chengchi University as she continues to learn how to ensure that projects embarked on are of value that can bring impact to others.

Team from Europe


Project 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!


Project ARDE'

Team from Europe


Isabella Adinolfi is an Italian student currently pursuing a Single-Cycle Master’s degree in Pharmacy at the Department of Drug Sciences of University of Pavia. She’s doing an internship at a pharmacy in Northern Italy, where she’s improving her knowledge on public health and communication.     She’s a member of UCID (Christian Union of Entrepreneurs and Managers). She’s passionate about traveling and discovering new cultures and lifestyles: in fact, she volunteered at Shelter Charity Shop in Brighton, where she refined her teamwork skills.  Moreover, she will be writing her graduation thesis on Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology at UCL (University College London).  She values science and research, but she’s also fond of poetry and literature. Isabella is from Asti, in the North-Western Italy, but is currently studying in Pavia.


Miriam la Matina is a physicist with a bachelor degree from the University of Padua. She is currently pursuing her Master in Physics at the University of Padua, Physics and Astronomy Department (DFA).  Recently, she has completed an internship at the Consorzio RFX, focusing her research on plasma physics and controlled thermonuclear fusion. She has always been passionate about the environment, taking part of volunteering work in ecologist groups. She currently is the coordinator of the local Greenpeace group of volunteers in Padua. She wants to keep working in the energy field, to give her contribute in the research on new and more sustainable energetic sources, and to keep expanding her volunteering work. Miriam is from Asti, in the North-Western Italy, but she is currently living in Padua.


Gaia Mussa is a master student at the University of Milan in Public and Corporate Communication (COM), attending the Digital Communication and Public Opinion curriculum. She got her bachelor degree in Communication Science at the University of Turin in 2020. During high school, she worked as a volunteer photographer for some newspapers of her city. In her bachelor’s degree, she was active in the Italian association MARKETERs Club, taking part in the organization of an event as Social Media Strategist. Moreover, she completed an university internship as content creator for a travel agency based in Turin. Recently, she has completed an online workshop on publishing professions at the Publishing School in Florence. She is very passionate about reading and writing and, in the near future, she wants to work in the publishing business world. Gaia is from Asti, in the North-Western Italy.

Anna Rosso

Anna Rosso is a master student at University of Torino, where she’s currently studying Administration and Control. Anna got her bachelor’s degree in administration, Finance and Control in 2020 from the University of Torino. Anna is passionate about wine and getting in contact with different cultures. That’s why, on the one hand, she’s studying to be a licensed Sommelier at AIS (Italian Association of Sommeliers) and, on the other hand, she’s an Italian firm’s ambassador withing PRAGMA, an international network of tax consultants and lawyers. Anna is involved in UCID (Christian Union of Entrepreneurs and Managers), an association that promotes good practice in the entrepreneurship field: there, she is part of the board for UCID (YOUNG ITALY, Secretary at UCID YOUNG PIEMONTE VALLE D’AOSTA and President of UCID YOUNG ASTI. Thanks to the associationism experience, she became interested in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: that’s why she’d like to pursue a career in the consulting area, helping companies becoming more and more sustainable and employees’ oriented. Anna is from Asti, in the North-Western Italy, but she is currently studying in Torino.

Team from Latin America


Project 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 acting in São Paulo focused on the improvement of response mechanisms for crisis via a bottom-up approach, which results 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.


Project Motirõ São Paulo

Team from Latin America


Mauricio José Caires Doro is graduated in International Relations from the Federal University of São Paulo and currently a master's student of International Relations, in the research line of International Political Economy, at the Interinstitutional Graduate Program in International Relations “San Tiago Dantas” (UNESP, UNICAMP, PUC-SP). He is currently studying Chinese investments in the Brazilian infrastructure.


Vinícius Cássio Ferreira de Souza is currently a master's candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Global Politics, researching the impacts of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Southeast Asia. He has graduated in Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) and in International Relations at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP).


Jéssica Giani is an Economist graduated from the Federal University of São Paulo and Master’s student in Development Economics at the same institution. Currently researching about solidarity economy as a proposal for economic development and women’s empowerment. Founder and principal leader of the online English school “Easy-Peasy English BR”.


Mariana Gomes de Carvalho is a master’s student in Global Development and Foresight at the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Global Development Policy (GLODEP). Her research interests are global health and human development. She has graduated in International Relations from the Federal University of São Paulo.


Jefferson Luís da Silva is graduated in International Relations from the Federal University of São Paulo. Master's student in Social Sciences, in the research line of International Relations and Development, at the São Paulo State University, campus of Marília. He has experience in the area of International Relations, working mainly on the following topics: Science, Technology and Innovation Policies; Political Economy and specific international organization (OECD).

Team from North America and Oceania


Project 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 popularize a circular approach to agricultural management, BuyBy, an easy-access and trustworthy software marketplace, enables and incentivizes farmers to sell these crop stubbles and other by-products to generate alternative income.


Project BuyBy

Team from North America and Oceania


Stefan Faistenauer studies Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, specializing in venture development and engineering management. He interned as a Product Manager at Google Flights and co-organizes a Principled Entrepreneurship course at Stanford. Stefan grew up in Austria and received his bachelor’s degree from the Technical University of Munich.


Yiwei (Viviana) Li studies Asset Management at Yale School of Management, specializing in private capital and impact investing. Before SOM, she has worked as a market analyst in L’Oréal's strategy team in Paris, a business intelligence intern at UN Peacekeeping Operations in New York, and a consultant and a development finance researcher in Toronto. Viviana is from Canada.


Veenu King studies Environmental Management at the Yale School of the Environment. She specializes in Business and Industrial Ecology. She has worked as a data scientist team lead and supply chain consultant in the Los Angeles tech start-up scene and completed her Bachelors in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University. Veenu is from the United States.


Elaine Lac studies Environmental Management at the Yale School of the Environmental, specializing in Industrial Ecology, Green Chemistry, and Business. She has worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal in Urban Agriculture, a grassroots organizer in Kentucky and Los Angeles, a policy and legislation advocate in Washington, D.C., and a GIS Specialist. Elaine is from the United States.


Maximilian Schubert studies Environmental Management at the Yale School of the Environment. He specializes in Green Finance, Business, and Industrial Ecology. Before, he has worked as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome and with Deloitte Sustainability Consulting in Munich. He did his bachelor’s in Forestry and Landscape Management in Freiburg, Germany.



Launch of the 2021 Geneva Challenge : 18.12.2020

Registration of teams opens : 18.12.2020

Announcement of the Jury Panel and the Keynote Speaker : April 2021

Extended registration deadline : 18.04.2021

Submission deadline : 12.07.2021

Semi-finalists announced : Beginning of August 2021

Jury Evaluation meeting : 31.08.2021

Finalists announced : September 2021

Oral Presentations of the Finalists and Award Ceremony : 16 November 2021