Speaking at the first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit on 21 September at UN Headquarters in New York, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, had a stark message for the attendees: “Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Millions of young people all over the world are already being affected by it. If we don’t act now, the impact will be severe”.
Some of the technological innovations that young people developed to solve climate change issues were showcased during the Youth Climate Summit. These included winning solutions from the Reboot the Earth challenge—a global competition that took place virtually on Unite Ideas and in six countries (Malaysia, Finland, India, Egypt, Germany, and the United States) in the form of hackathons to develop coding solutions to climate change issues.
The good news is that young people worldwide are not only mobilizing massively, calling for immediate action, they are also contributing to this action by creating and generating innovative solutions to stem climate change.
Representatives from the winning teams—known as the Climate Reboot Troops—attended the Summit to present their solutions. The winning teams were recognized during the Reboot the Earth award ceremony at the Summit (video).
Each Reboot the Earth coding event challenged young people to solve a local climate crisis by improving upon an existing programme or to build a new one. More than 1,000 youth registered for the challenges, which were co-organized by the Office of Information and Communications Technology and the UN Technology and Innovations Labs (UNTIL) together with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and with the support of SAP and Deloitte.
The winning solutions were from
Egypt: a mobile application that uses sensors for measuring water needs and the temperature of the crops themselves across the fields.
Finland: a tool that utilizes cutting-edge direct air capture technology to extract Co2 as part of public transportation, which could enable cities to go beyond carbon neutrality.
Germany: an AI platform that allows communities to collaborate on data collection to solve climate challenges.
India: a solution combining machine learning, virtual platform and knowledge sharing to empower marginalized women.
Malaysia: a solution combining Blockchain and gamification to identify agricultural smallholders of palm oil plantations and track goods along the supply chain, promoting responsible production and consumption.
United States: a video game that helps raise awareness on the importance of sport as an agent for change for climate issues.
Virtual: an app that crowdsources greenhouse gas measurements and is accessible by the community.
“Climate change is an existential threat, and we are running out of time. We must take immediate action, and technology can be the catalyst for innovative initiatives to address this threat”, said Ms. Atefeh Riazi, Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Information Technology Officer. “But after meeting these supremely talented young people, I’m very optimistic and believe our youth will help solve some of the big social problems we confront today using technology and innovation”.
"The advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including those brought on by a combination of computing power, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence, are generating revolutions in health care, transport and manufacturing.
I am convinced that these new capacities can help us to lift millions of people out of poverty, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and enable developing countries to leap‑frog into a better future."
23 March 2018, New York