Malaysia and Estonia win Climathon Global Awards at ChangeNOW summit

Published by Catherine Ouvrard

The city of Penang, Malaysia, and a team of citizens from Tallinn, Estonia, were announced the winners of EIT Climate-KIC’s Climathon Global Awards at the ChangeNOW summit on January 31st, 2020 in Paris.

A total of ten citizens and five city finalists took part in the inaugural Climathon Global Awards, which recognise creativity and solutions-thinking in response to local climate challenges. The event was held by EIT Climate-KIC in partnership with the Crowther Lab, ETH Zurich. 

The first-place cities project from Penang focused on improving social resilience, as well as nature-based solutions to reduce the heat island effect. The winning citizen project from Estonia, Woola, tackled waste by replacing e-commerce packaging with sheep wool. Both winners will receive a cash prize to invest in their project and ongoing technical support from the EIT Climate-KIC network. 

Sofia Castelo from Think City said: 

“It’s incredibly exciting and an honor for Penang to be the first city winner of the Global Climathon Awards. There are places in the world where the climate in 2050 will be vastly different from what it is today. Penang is one of these cities—this is the challenge. We believe that our nature-based approach can make a real difference to the lives of Penangites, who are already regularly suffering the impacts of extreme weather, including flooding, heat stroke and heat stress. Our research will begin with climate-resilient species of trees that can help cool our communities and prevent flooding, and we also hope to raise awareness and increase understanding that climate change impacts have to be tackled in the hearts of our cities.”

Anna-Liisa Palatu from Woola said:

“The real value of winning this award is in the recognition. It gives us a lot of credibility and a capital boost to test out our solution. We know that the planet’s resources are finite, and we have to rethink how we approach materials and waste. Businesses are using the wrong kind of materials, 96 per cent of it isn’t recycled and it takes a huge amount of energy to produce. We think sheep’s wool is an ideal solution—our project is shock proof, heat proof and totally compostable. When we’re talking about climate change, raising awareness is always good, but a practical solution is always better.

Global Climathon Day took place in October 2019. A record-breaking 6,500 participants took part, with 24-hour hackathons taking place in 56 countries spanning four continents. This year’s Climathon will take place in November during COP26, offering citizens from all over the world a pathway to positive action, and through that mobilisation the possibility to spark systemic change.

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