Accelerating Resilient Action on the SDGs during a global pandemic
The second iteration of the SDG Innovation Challenge confirmed our inferences thus far: connecting young talent around practical challenges relating to the SDGs with different tools, skills, and mindsets is a much-needed approach and empowers communities to tackle pressing issues together. Read on for details!
The exponential effects of the global pandemic in 2020 were spread far and wide, eroding much of the considerable progress achieved around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG Innovation Challenge 2021 was organized again, staying true to its beginnings as a virtual ideation marathon for motivated young people from across Africa to come together in developing and connecting practical solution ideas for challenges faced by their local communities at the grassroots level.
Building resilience by empowering the youth
Here are some insights from the SDG Innovation Challenge 2021, which was organized under the theme Youth resilience in the Covid-19 era: Pathways to accelerate actions towards achieving SDGs to reduce exacerbating intergenerational inequalities and to involve young Africans in building societal resilience.
Two major advancements from the previous year include:
- Shifting the focus from just SDGs 3 (Good Health and Well Being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) to allow submissions around all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
- Organizing two separate rounds to accommodate a larger number of participants and to give every team an opportunity to submit an award-winning solution idea.
The SDG Innovation Challenge 2021 took place from 18 – 20 October 2021 and 21-23 October for the first and second rounds respectively. Embracing SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals), the second edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge was a collaborative effort between GrassRoots Hub, TECHFARM Hub, Youth Advocates Ghana, the African Youth SDGs Summit, and the Melton Foundation. In addition, numerous collaborators – including organizations like Civicus Youth, Combeo Consult, Digital Times Africa, Shibuka, The Spaceship Academy, Unleash, World Assembly for Youth (WAY), and Young Africa Works – contributed to the success of the event through cross-promotion, pro-bono mentoring, speaking engagement and more.
You can download our event report here for a more detailed review of the 2021 edition.
Impact of the SDG Innovation Challenge 2021
The following is an overview of the immediate impact numbers of the SDG Innovation Challenge 2021:
- 713 young African SDG practitioners came together in 104 groups to apply to participate in these 48hrs virtual ideation marathons.
- 166 participants (74 female; 92 male) organized in 38 groups entered the collaborative innovation journey in two consecutive events
- 84 participants (41 female; 43 male) working in 20 teams completed the SDG Innovation challenge successfully
- 18 participants in 3 teams were awarded winning packages based on the strength of their proposal. The award ceremony took place on Saturday, 4 December 2021.
The participants of the three winning teams were considered for Award-Winning Packages, which included cash prizes of a total of 1000 USD, a Scholarship with “The Spaceship Academy,” incubation and mentoring, Investment match-making recommendations, the opportunity to showcase their idea at the 4th African Youth SDGs Summit, and more. In addition, all successful participants of the SDG Innovation Challenge received a certificate attesting to their successful participation in the event.
The second iteration of the SDG Innovation Challenge has confirmed the assumption from the previous event: connecting young talent around practical challenges relating to the SDGs with different tools, skills, and mindsets which allows them to tackle pressing issues together is a much-needed approach. For the 2021 iteration of the event, we incorporated some of the important lessons learned from the maiden challenge in 2020 to be even more intentional about how we engage participants and what we can expect them to understand at the end of the process.