24 hour race to find climate change solutions

Participants are urged to sign up for Wellington’s upcoming Climathon, with the chance to win valuable prizes and tap into a global network with their creative climate change solutions.


The 24 hour international challenge, co-hosted by Wellington City Council and Victoria University of Wellington, will take place in 121 cities in 34 countries on six continents simultaneously on 28 and 29 October 2016.


The free event, now in its second year, will be held at a secret location close to the central city, revealed to participants by map 24 hours in advance.


Last year, more people participated in the New Zealand Climathon than in any other city worldwide. A New Zealand team was selected as one of the best in the world, and presented their idea at the UN climate action conference in Paris as a result. Another top New Zealand team won Best Building Project, and is currently pitching their idea to investors and accelerators in Berlin and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


This year participants are challenged to come up with new ways for Wellington to adapt to climate change.


The possibility of businesses surviving or even finding value from a warming planet could prove controversial, but Councillor David Lee from Wellington City Council says it’s crucial.


“Climate change will have significant impacts on the way we work and play in Wellington,” says Councillor Lee. “Understanding the challenges we face and being early to see the opportunities they present right now will give us significant advantage in not only looking after our environment and people, but also on the world stage in the market place.”


Associate Professor Marjan van den Belt, Victoria’s newly appointed Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) is excited about the possibilities.


“I think it’s crucial to design adaptation oriented companies that—from inception—also connect to and ultimately invest in mitigation as part of their business model at least in principle. This is not a ‘gold rush’ based on demise, but rather an opportunity to enhance the social ecological business spirit by keeping adaptation and mitigation connected.”


Climathon judges include climate strategist Rebecca Mills, ethical business strategist James Bushell from MOTIF, leading economist Geoff Simmons, and climate professors and behaviour change experts from Victoria University.


The expert panel will be looking for the environmental, social and economic impact the ideas will have on Wellington, as well as their long term viability, scalability and sustainability.


With innovation a focus of this year’s challenge, participants with a broad range of skills are encouraged to participate—including designers, entrepreneurs, public sector workers, business people, students, technologists, researchers, scientists, environmentalists songwriters and artists.


Top teams can win spots in Victoria University’s summer entrepreneurship accelerator, Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp, valued at $7,500, supporting them to develop their idea further.


The organisation behind the global Climathon, Climate-KIC, is the European Union’s main climate innovation initiative.


Event organiser Bart de Vries was among the New Zealand contingent attending the Paris climate talks as a result of last year’s Climathon, and says the experience proved invaluable.


“It was inspiring to see the great products and services people are scaling into large businesses that are quickly moving us to a new, clean economy.”


Mr De Vries says the global Climathon alumni network is an important resource. “It gives you a way in to speak to an engaged and connected community, with a massive global network of people to help get projects growing and effect real change.”


Wellington’s Climathon is co-hosted by Wellington City Council and Victoria University, with support from the Deep South National Science Challenge, the Royal Society of New Zealand, Victoria University Wellington Students’ Association and Viclink. It is delivered by MOTIF and Enspiral company EXP.


More information on the New Zealand Climation, including registration, can be found at www.climathon.nz.


Photo credit: Ross Cooper