What if tackling climate change and promoting sustainable economic development could be combined? In this guest article, the Climate-KIC initiative explains how young people are doing just that.
These 10 young innovators are tackling climate change in novel ways.
Dominic Müller (Switzerland), Sofia Tsaliki (Greece), Eveline Kantor (The Netherlands)
"Fashion is a fickle thing. And clothes are surprisingly damaging for the environment: the fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world. In a society where a certain piece of clothing is hip one day and discarded the next, there is still a need for sustainable and creative solutions as an answer to our urge to consume. With our startup Dom's Angels, we are providing a new model for special-occasion clothes that can be rented out instead of bought. It's time to start building a sharing economy in the clothing sector, similar to what already exists for other goods or services."
Ahmad Alshaghel (Syria)
"Hi, I'm Ahmad from Syria. I currently study in Portugal. I'm interested in driving climate innovation, both in Europe and my country of origin, because I think it's no longer a luxury for us to think ahead. Climate change is a problem that everyone has to deal with, the real fight of the 21st century. And although my country has many other issues to deal with at the moment, I'd like to think that when we start rebuilding our country, we might as well do it right."
Sean Anayah (United States)
"I've given myself the challenge to try and innovate the way we use energy. The current problem with our energy system is that there are peak hours during which everybody wants to use electricity. During these peaks, power plants have to purchase extra energy from producers to meet the demand, and they're purchasing it at a loss. By facilitating better communication and an exchange of information between utility companies and consumers, our startup aims to reduce both the energy use at the consumer-end and the energy storage at the production-end, saving both parties money and reducing CO2. Creating more awareness on both our consumption and creation of energy is a key to making the whole chain more sustainable."
Animesh Behera (India)
"I am tackling a very global issue that we are all facing: the issue of waste. We all produce so much of it! The issue here is that we are used to using materials in a linear way. Ninety-nine percent of the stuff we produce is thrown away within six months, and our landfills are growing every year. This is taking massive proportions in my own country, but happens throughout the world — 70 percent of all waste is from cities alone. The linear use of products needs to be altered to a circular system, not only in terms of waste and recycling but also in terms of waste re-evaluation."
Lili Balogh (Hungary)
"The great thing about climate innovation is that it brings people with different backgrounds together, with their own perspectives in trying to solve complex issues. It's these fresh perspectives that most often offer a relatively straightforward response to a problem. For instance, in our current project we are trying to find a way to use byproducts from food processing, such as olive pits or the shells of sunflower seeds, and turn them into food packaging. It would be used in food delivery or takeaway food. It's a really simple concept, but nobody has ever thought about it. That's why innovation is really important, especially in times when resources are getting scare."
Hugues Delattre (France)
"Your individual behavior does make a difference when it comes to tackling climate change. All the different technologies to make your household more energy efficient are already on the market, but we've noticed that, for many people, the largest barrier to actually applying these technologies in their own house is a lack of information and the inconvenience of finding out how to use these technologies. Together with my team, we are developing an easy-to-use retrofitting toolkit to tweak your household to become more energy efficient. Instead of creating something new, we're enabling people to use the innovations that are already out there."
Josefine Strandgaard (Denmark)
"I am doing a master's degree in innovation at the Technical University of Denmark. They teach us to constantly question the conventional way people do things, and to ask questions like 'Is there not an easier way to do this?' or 'What is bothering me about this process?'. Along with some other students, I have already optimized the water purification system in the city of Copenhagen last year. Now, we are developing modular toys for children that can be rebuilt to change function and grow with the child during their whole childhood. Tackling climate change can be done in very indirect ways."
Kiran Raj (India)
"During the KIC journey, we were stimulated to come up with great ideas for innovation, and were allowed to dream big. There comes a time, however, that your process has to be scaled down to something that is realistic and feasible. Anyone can have an idea, but making sure your great idea is actually feasible often proves to be difficult. This journey has taught me that climate innovation is as much about dreaming as it is about being realistic."
This guest article comes from the Climate-KIC Journey, a climate innovation summer school that brings together students and professionals from all over the world.