Tapping public talent to overcome the challenges of climate change

Jun 20, 2016

Last year's winners of the climate change challenge

Finalists selected in nationwide competition for innovative ideas to boost urban resilience

Public engagement at the local level has a vital role to play in the campaign to prevent, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Overcoming the challenges that lie ahead will only be possible by activating and drawing upon the energy and ideas of individual citizens.

As part of UNDP’s and USAID’s  efforts to tap into these resources, a nationwide competition was launched earlier this year inviting members of the public to submit their own innovative proposals for tackling climate change and increasing urban resilience.

Implemented in partnership with the Swedish Embassy, the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, MilieuKontakt Macedonia and the Faculty of Computer Science, the competition sought to tap into citizens’ talents to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for climate action and sustainable cities.

More than sixty ideas were submitted to the competition, ten of which were shortlisted for further development.  

The teams behind the winning ideas will receive expert technical advice and assistance as part of a climate change-themed social innovation camp to be held in Skopje on 24-26 June. There the ten teams will compete for a US $10,000 prize to develop the winning idea into a fully-fledged prototype.

Meet the finalists!

1.            Guerrilla Bike Racks

Jasmina Petrovska’s team will develop eco-friendly cycle-parking places made out of used metal barrels. The parking places will be placed in thirty of the busiest locations in Skopje with the aim of motivating people to use their cycles more often instead of cars. The idea can easily be replicated in other cities.

2.            Compressed Air Bikes and Cars

Dimitrija Angelov’s team will be prototyping light-weight reservoirs based on nano-composites that will power motorbikes and cars over a distance of 25 km without the need for fuel. This will help reduce pollution by decreasing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

3.            Using Zeolites to Fight Harmful Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dino Jordanoski’s team will work on prototyping panels with clinoptiolite (natural zeolite), which will be placed across the city to absorb greenhouse gasses and electromagnetic radiation and help reduce their negative health effects on humans.

4.            Air purifying billboards

Nikola Jovanovski’s team will be prototyping special filters that can be inserted into existing commercial billboards to help clean the air by absorbing the concentration of particles that pose health concerns.

5.            Re-Bot – A Machine that Recycles Plastic in Supermarkets

Tamara Dimitrova will help overcome the challenges of solid waste disposal with Re-Bot, a smart machine that will encourage better recycling habits among citizens. This idea also includes a game in which participants can gain points and win awards when they actively recycle waste such as plastic and cans.

6.            Smart Energy Umbrella

Aleksandar Kocalevski’s team will be prototyping a smart umbrella that generates energy from rainfall and sunshine to charge mobile phones and other devices. The umbrella’s diodes can also be turned on at night to illuminate the path ahead, boosting public safety in streets without public lighting.

7.            It’s Air O’clock – Build It Yourself

Pance Ribarski’s team will prototype a new clock-like device aimed at raising awareness about the air quality in our homes, together with a web and a mobile app to help control the device remotely. The ‘air clock’ incorporates sensors to detect harmful greenhouse gases, while also acting as an alarm that goes off in response to dangerous levels of air parameters—warning householders and neighbours, for example, in case of smoke from fire.  The team will provide the device as an open source hardware so that everyone can build this air clock in their home.

8.            Crowdsourcing Trees to Protect Greenery

Sasek Goseva’s team will prototype a web and mobile app that will help protect the city’s greenery. The app will enable citizens to map trees with geo-tagging, to draw attention to new locations where additional greenery could be planted, and to report abuse to ensure all green spaces are protected.

9.            Treasure Seeker Reduces Solid Waste

Petre Lameski’s team will work on reducing pollution from solid, electronic and plastic waste by creating a new social network, including a website and a mobile app that will allow people and companies to collaborate by buying or giving away objects they wish to dispose of. The network will greatly reduce the need to transport unwanted objects to landfills and scrapyards. The motto of the team is ‘One person’s garbage is another’s treasure’.

10.          IPopeye -- The Recycling Man

Simona’s team will prototype iPopeye to help raise awareness about food waste. Saving just 30% of wasted food can eliminate the problem of food insecurity in the country. The idea is to develop programmes to dispose of food efficiently for the benefit of others rather than sending it to landfills.

Special Guest Star Appearance:

Matej Plavevski, the 13-year old whizz kid who swept the jury members off their feet, will be working as a guest star at the camp to prototype his idea to use drones for social good. Equipped with big data from the different pollution levels at different locations and different times, the drone will help decision makers reach better-informed decisions about how to fight pollution.

Good luck to all and stay tuned for updates at #OdTebeZavisi.


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