Be part of the race against climate change! Join our Climate Action Youth Design Challenge running from November 2021 - June 2022

Climate change impacts every country in the world - and it’s not just affecting the environment, it’s impacting people’s lives and destroying communities. The whole world is in a race against climate change and we want to empower you to help!

Our challenge for you as young people is: Less talk, more action. How might we create innovative solutions to tackle climate change?

Tackling climate change is the 13th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. It calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. With the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, climate action is more important than ever – and young people like you are the key to imagining a better future.

Within this challenge, there are three key themes we encourage you to explore:

  1. Renewable and responsible energy use: Globally, energy use is increasing at an unsustainable rate. Only 1/5th of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewable sources.
  2. Preserving our water supply: Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), and humans are using it faster than nature can replenish it.
  3. Sustainable cities: Currently, cities contribute more than 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and over 60 per cent of resource use.

Read on below to find out more about these problems and how to reframe them as opportunities so you can create impact!

Challenge Details

What is the challenge? 

The Climate Action Youth Design Challenge is a free online design thinking challenge that empowers you to consider how you can take climate action. It empowers you to identify problems, reframe them as opportunities, develop a solution and create a prototype.

Why is this important now?

Climate change is a global challenge that we need to fight now before there is more irreversible damage. Fortunately we have incredible young people like you to help create incredible solutions and innovations. Now is the time for climate action!

Winners and Prizes

There are two entry categories:

  • 10-14 years old's (3 winners will be chosen)
  • 15-21 year old's (3 winners will be chosen)

Winners will receive the following per idea:

  • An awesome a bluetooth speaker or voucher to support your business
  • A virtual mentoring package from Young Change Agents (2 x 1 hr sessions)
  • The opportunity to be featured on our website and in our top ideas media campaign!

14 runners-up will also receive a special reward for taking part and be featured on our site as a runner-up!

 

FAQs

How do I participate?

This is a challenge you can do on your own or with a friend, team or family member. It can also be run by your teachers or parents. You need to enter your idea by Friday 17th June 2022 to be eligible. 

Will I get feedback?

If you submit your solution by Friday 20th May 2022 you will get feedback to help you develop your idea!

Who can enter?

Anyone aged 10-21 years old can enter and take part in this challenge.

Who is Young Change Agents?

Young Change Agents is a not-for-profit social enterprise that empowers young people across Australia to find problems in their community, reframe them as opportunities, and then come up with solutions. We need you to help us tackle this challenge. In the past we’ve seen young people develop self-watering gardens to respond to droughts, recyclable clothing to prevent fast fashion and biodegradable paper to prevent deforestation. What environmental issues have you noticed? What innovative solution can you think of for these issues?

 

How is the challenge structured?

1. Choose one of the challenge areas

You need to choose one of the following themes to focus on:

  • Renewable and responsible energy use: scary state. Only 1/5th of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewable sources.
  • Preserving our water supply: Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), and humans are using it faster than nature can replenish it.
  • Sustainable cities: Currently, cities contribute more than 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and over 60 per cent of resource use.

 

Now that you’ve chosen it’s time to start the design challenge!

 

2. Explore the problem and dig deeper using empathy interviews

You want to start by deep diving into the challenge you’ve chosen. You may want to look at some of the additional resources to get a better understanding of the topic you’ve chosen.

Then, it’s time to find someone you can interview about the challenge. These interviews are known as “empathy interviews” as you start to learn more about the problem by empathising with the person you are interviewing and understanding some of the challenges they face.

So, find a partner and ask them to tell you about this problem and how it affects them. We have sample questions for each of the chosen themes but please feel free to ask your own as well.

For example: If you are exploring renewable and responsible energy use, you might ask your friend questions like:

  • What sort of energy sources do you use in your home?
  • What about in your school?
  • What about in your city or even in Australia?
  • Do you see renewable energy being used in your home, school and community?
  • Tell me about where you see it being used?
  • What percentage of your energy use in your home is currently from renewable energy?
  • What uses the most energy in your home and how energy efficient are they?

 

Make sure to dig deeper as your partner answers by asking “why”!

To create a solution that will have a positive impact you need to think about who is being affected by the problem. Whilst we are all impacted by environmental issues in the long run it’s important to be specific. Is it animals, workers, farmers? Try and figure out who you want to help!

For example: If you were focusing on a challenge of “Reducing food waste” you might ask another student:

“Why is there food wastage at school?”

Because kids don’t always like what’s in their lunchbox

Why?

Because they don’t make their own lunch

Why?

Because their parents do it for them!

Aha! So what if we made it easier for students to create their own lunches?

Of course, there are many reasons why there is food waste at school - you can pick lots of reasons and follow the same process to come up with a different root cause. In reality, solving problems needs to be done in multiple ways, and all together! That's why the Global SDGs are a call to action for everyone to work on these together in lots of different ways!

Make sure you take plenty of notes as you interview your partner. Keep your notes from these interviews and it will be useful for the customer/user section of your submission!

3. Define your problem

From your empathy interviews you will get interesting insights about some problems this person might have in helping to be part of the solution. Take a look through your notes and circle all of the problems or challenges you found in your empathy interviews.

Now pick the one that is most important. This problem should also feel exciting for you to solve.

4. Reframe your problem 

Now that you have identified the problem you are going to solve, it’s time to reframe that as an opportunity.

Let’s look at our example:

Our problem above was: “Sarah wants to be more sustainable but she uses her clothes dryer everyday because her backyard is small and she doesn’t have space for a clothesline.”

We want to reframe this so that we’re not thinking about this as a negative but rather, an opportunity to be creative and innovative problem solvers! We do this by using a simple tool called a “How Might We” statement.

Let’s look at our example again: our How Might We statement for Sarah’s problem would become: “How might we create an environmentally friendly clothes drying solution that works in small spaces?”

The trick with How Might We statements is to ensure they don’t include the solution in them. This limits our thinking. For example, we wouldn’t want a HMW statement along the lines of “How Might We help Sarah purchase a more environmentally friendly dryer?”

5. Ideation

Now you have your opportunity, it is time to be creative and come up with ideas!

  • Get a notebook, post-its or some coloured paper and come up with as many ideas as you can.
  • Imagine you have one million dollars and you can do anything you want. Imagine you had to use tech to do it. Then imagine you had no access to tech..what would you do?
  • Push yourself to come up with at least ten different ideas. Then take a break and try and come up with even more!
  • Think about the audience you chose and how you could best help them.

Once you’ve got a lot of ideas, choose the one you think would best solve your opportunity. This is your solution.

Remember there’s no such thing as a bad idea!

6. Test the solution you have designed

Before you share your ideas or spend time building something, it’s a good idea to test and improve your ideas. This process is called validation. This could be done by talking to your parents about what you have created and asking for some feedback. You could even consult the target group you are trying to help (this may not work if you are helping animals) but as you get more feedback on your idea you can make it even better. Don’t forget to try and avoid close contact with people and use the internet and the phone where possible.

Another great way to test is to create a prototype - this is a draft version of your idea. You can do this by drawing what your idea would look like, creating a mini-version, building something out of recycled materials, or creating a plan of what the idea could look like.

7. Share!

Now that you’ve got an idea, we want to hear all about it!

Click ‘Sign up now to get started’ at the top of this page to submit your idea.

Keep in mind we’ll ask you for a logo and a picture of your solution. This could be of your brainstorming, a picture of what your idea would look like, a poster promoting your idea or something else that is a visual representation of your idea.

 

By submitting your idea via the Young Change Agents website, you'll be automatically entered into the challenge and you can also be notified of other opportunities that may help support your idea in the future.

Challenge Tips

Additional Resources

For Youth

Ready to take on the challenge and learn more about how to combat climate change? Sign up to get all the information and resources you need to develop your idea!

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For Educators

Would you like us to run this as a challenge for your students? Get in touch to book a workshop! Or we can provide you with our classroom kit so you can run this as a 1-2 hour design-thinking challenge for your class linked to the curriculum. 

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For Parents (of Under 18 Entrants)

This is a great activity to do with your child to re-frame current challenges as an opportunity to problem-solve. You or your child will need to create an account to post their project idea! Point your child to this page to work through independently using the instructions to the left OR you can run this as a 90 min challenge at home using our worksheet and guide! T&C's on the sign-up form!

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Special Guest Judges

Chaya Adams

Senior Program Manager, Sustainability and Climate Lead

Tony Rogers

CEO, Woods Furniture

Charlotte Connell

Head of Engagement, Climate Salad

Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles

Executive Dean, Southern Cross University