On Wednesday night [6-9pm, 10 November 2021] two innovative projects took home the first Climate Challenge Cup, following an innovation showcase and live final at COP26 in Glasgow.
The international competition, supported by the Department of Business, Industrial Strategy and Science, uncovered civic research partnerships in the US and UK that are tackling climate change. The final is a fitting precursor to COP26’s last themed day (11 November 2021), focusing on communities, cities, regions and the built environment.
“The Climate Challenge Cup shows a new kind of activism is taking hold,” said Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation, the UK’s centre for community research and social innovation, which delivered the Cup. “It celebrates social, sustainable innovation that busts through silos, disciplines and sectors to bring actors with a shared vision but different resources together to create real change.”
The Green ERA Renewable Energy and Urban Farm in South Chicago was awarded the prize for climate adaptation. The project recognises that while demand for locally-grown food is increasing, there is an inadequate supply of clean, healthy soil as it is often contaminated with high levels of lead, toxins from gasoline, and heavy metals from factories. A vacant nine-acre brownfield site is therefore being transformed, creating 25 jobs and diverting inedible food waste from landfills to produce clean, renewable energy and nutrient-rich soil. This will be used to grow more fresh, local food on the rest of the site. Partners include the University of Illinois in Chicago, Green Era, who will run the site, and Urban Grower’s Collective, a non-profit led by black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) who have a longstanding relationship with the local community.
In the UK, Concrete4Change won the prize in the net zero category. Concrete4Change has developed a new technology that can extract carbon from the air and store it in concrete. This can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 60%. Concrete4Change worked with multiple partners, including universities and construction professionals, to assess the robustness and environmental credentials of the product, which is now being trialed on sites around the UK.
A finalist in each category was also ‘highly commended’ in the Climate Challenge Cup awards gala; the Marshall Plan for Middle America was celebrated in the net zero category, for helping the Appalachian region of the US move to regenerative industries, as was a project training citizens to capture temperature and water level data to help local government model the impact of climate change in South Florida in the climate adaptation category.
“The Climate Challenge Cup showcases the need for people from different parts of the system – government, universities and communities – to work together on creating a regenerative, rather than extractive, society,” says Daze Aghaji, a climate and justice activist, and a Climate Challenge Cup judge.
Fellow judge Professor Alex Halliday, Founding Dean of the Columbia University Climate School and Director of The Earth Institute, says: “The climate crisis demands innovative solutions developed as partnerships between researchers, businesses, decision makers and communities. The Climate Challenge Cup is a great way to focus attention on some of these breakthrough ideas.”
Find out more about how The Young Foundation is supporting communities, organisations and policy-influencers to work in partnership to tackle climate change at www.youngfoundation.org.
Notes to Editors
Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation, and judges Daze Aghaji and Alex Halliday are all available for comment or interview, as are other Climate Challenge Cup finalists, winners and judges on request.
Please contact 07535 976 933, jessica.moore@
About the Climate Challenge Cup finalists
The twelve finalists are:
Category 1: Carbon reduction to achieve net zero
- Net Zero Innovation Programme, UK brings UK universities and local authorities together to address a local challenge that can help them get closer to net zero.
- Texas carbon market, US proposes a new market to store carbon in soil, offsetting carbon for manufacturers and creating income for land-owners.
- WINNER Net zero concrete for construction, UK is a new technology that can extract carbon from the air and mineralise it to make concrete. This can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 60%.
- Cholderton Estate on climate change and extinction, UK Using organic growing principles, a chalk-soil farm is absorbing carbon and nitrous oxide through its arable crops and feeding them to its cattle. This creates a net positive food supply.
- HIGHLY COMMENDED Marshall plan for Middle America, Appalachian Region, US – Mayors, universities and labour unions have joined forces to move towards a ‘just’ energy transition that will create local jobs and heal the land.
- Sustainable Futures Carbon Bank, UK incentivises farmers to use more of their land to store carbon, working to help the UK food and drink supply chain achieve net zero.
Category 2: Adaptation to climate change
- Local Climate Adaptation Tool, Exeter, UK allows councils to view different climate forecasts up to 2090, explore the impact they will have on health inequalities, and suggest adaptation measures, based on scientific evidence.
- Heat equity analysis for bus shelter provision, Los Angeles, US drives policy to support low-income citizens who are dependent on public transport.
- Hidden environmental histories of the River Clyde, Glasgow, UK seeks to better understand how the city’s heritage has shaped it, and the importance of preserving it as an environmental asset in the future.
- WINNER Green Era Renewable Energy and Urban Farm Campus, Chicago, US transforms a nine-acre brownfield site in a disadvantaged neighbourhood
into an urban farm and renewable energy plant, creating jobs and increasing life opportunities for local people.
- HIGHLY COMMENDED Southeast Florida Regional Citizen Science Climate Action Network, Miami, US trains citizens to measure flood and heat fluctuations at a hyperlocal scale to provide a more accurate understanding of climate change.
- Pittsburgh Greenways Partnership Program, Pittsburgh, US is restoring more than 1,200 acres to prevent flooding and landslides.
The Cup judging panel includes:
- Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs (US)
- Daze Aghaji, Young UK Climate Justice Activist (UK)
- Nicola Yates OBE, CEO of the Connected Places Catapult (UK)
- Dr Atyia Martin, CEO and Founder of All Aces, Inc (US)
- Professor Alex Halliday, Director of the Earth Institute and Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School (UK)
About the Climate Challenge Cup
The Climate Challenge Cup is a new international competition showcasing civic research partnerships that are tackling climate change through innovation. It is being delivered by the research organisation, social investor and community practitioner, The Young Foundation, in the UK, and by MetroLab Network, a civic research and innovation collaborative, in the US. The Cup is funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is supported by the UK’s Science and Innovation Network, the City of Glasgow, Innovate UK, The University of Glasgow and sponsors Vertigo Ventures.
About The Young Foundation
The Young Foundation’s mission is to develop better connected and stronger communities across the UK. We research in and with communities to increase understanding of community life today. We offer different methods and approaches to involve communities and grow their capacity to own and lead change. We provide tools and resources to support innovation to tackle the issues people and communities care about. We’re a UKRI accredited research organisation, social investor and community practitioner.