The SDG Innovation Challenge is 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.
Inaugurated in 2020, the SDG Innovation Challenge is envisioned as a unique platform to allow exemplary minds and ideas to network across the continent of Africa. Designed as a marathon spanning 2.5 days, the focus of each Challenge is on a specific theme. Working within interdisciplinary teams of 4-7 people, participants collaborate to emerge with solution ideas that tackle key global issues by adopting a foundational, grassroots approach. The winning teams are awarded incentives, support and an opportunity to showcase their ideas at the African Youth SDGs Summit.
Based on our paradigm of Global Citizenship Practice, the SDG Innovation Challenge aims to spark sustained change agency by embracing the intertwined nature of the following domains:
AWARENESS, i.e. applied knowledge about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the many different forms global challenges take in diverse contexts and communities around the world, coupled with a solid understanding of core concepts and methods to analyze, connect and leverage them.
RESPONSIBILITY, i.e. developing attitudes and ethical leadership traits in individuals and communities to foster individual ownership of those issues along with collaborative, non-hierarchical approaches towards tackling them
ACTION, i.e. practical tools, experiences, and skills to drive and intersect sustainable development in order to effect collective impact at the local level while pushing the needle globally.
The SDG Innovation Challenge was born as a response to the virtual era precipitated by the COVID-19 crisis. With a massive, sudden disruption to normal routines and methodologies coupled with a fresh set of obstacles, we were forced to take a detour on the road to Agenda 2030.
However, every crisis presents an opportunity to adopt a new paradigm and leverage the changes to our advantage. The pandemic spurred us to pursue the 17 UN SDGs with renewed vigor and underlined the dire need for deep, interdisciplinary and cross-domain collaboration, in consonance with Global Citizenship. By giving primacy to the values enshrined in SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals), the Melton Foundation, in partnership with African Youth SDGs Summit and other co-organizers, hosted the maiden edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge in 2020. Envisaged as a long-term commitment, we aim to coalesce the best of minds across Africa each year, to spawn unique innovations and advance the SDGs.
The SDG Innovation Challenge is held across the continent of Africa, in intersection with the African Youth SDGs Summit
The Challenge seeks young, passionate SDG practitioners, advocates and leaders pan-Africa who actively desire to work towards fulfilling the goals and missions inscribed in the SDGs. Our objective is to provide a platform to young ideators who believe in working grassroots-up and are motivated to effect change in their communities and beyond. The ability to work with peers across geographies and domains and incorporate diversity in teams to produce holistic solutions are prerequisites for contestants to realise their potential as change agents and social leaders.
The SDG Innovation Challenge and The African Youth SDGs Summit strategically intersect - in their goals, themes and motivation.
The African Youth SDGs Summit is Africa’s largest youth forum on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Summit challenges young participants to adopt the mindset of SDG activists and leading decision-makers so as to evolve as a change-agent reflectively. Through an open debate on the youth’s role in implementing and monitoring the SDGs, envisaging innovations that unlock the road towards achieving the SDGs and networking with leaders, organizations and other key stakeholders in the Summit, the youth undergo a metamorphosis as young, motivated and passionate SDG leaders.
Aligned with the theme and focus areas of the African Youth SDGs Summit, the SDG Innovation Challenge aspires to engage 100+ participants from across Africa to yield 25+ solution ideas. A jury of renowned experts and practitioners in the respective areas as well as youth advocates, will evaluate these ideas to identify the most viable proposals / Start-Up Solutions in pre-specified categories, based on the focus areas of the event, for continued support. The top 3 solution ideas and the respective awards will be announced during the summit, where the winning teams will have the opportunity to present their solution idea on a pan-African forum.
The SDG Innovation Challenge has witnessed two editions so far over the years of 2020 and 2021, coinciding with the onset of the pandemic.
Almost 250 young, passionate SDG practitioners, advocates and leaders pan-Africa participated in last year's SDG Innovation Challenge, and formed part of an interdisciplinary team to produce innovative solutions to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals beyond the COVID-19 pandemic! Participants developed and pitched their solution ideas, and competed for an opportunity to present at the prestigious AYSDG Summit 2020, and more!
For young people, and especially for vulnerable youth, the COVID-19 crisis poses considerable risks in the fields of education, employment, mental health, and more. To reduce exacerbating intergenerational inequalities and to involve young people in building societal resilience, under the theme Youth resilience in Covid-19 era: Pathways to accelerate actions towards achieving SDGs, the SDG Innovation Challenge 2021 converges young talent from multiple disciplines!
Embracing SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals, the SDG Innovation Challenge is a collaborative efforts of numerous local, regional, and global organizations, including the following:
Meet Melton Foundation
Meet GrassRoots Hub
Meet Youth Advocates Ghana
Meet TECHFARM Hub
Meet African Youth SDGs Summit
The Melton Foundation has been a prominent organization working in the field of global citizenship for more than 25 years. We believe in drawing the wisdom of multiple cultures to shape fresh and creative narratives of global citizenship. Our global network of Fellows collaborates across boundaries to exchange, learn, and develop ideas and carry forward the discourse on global citizenship. In consonance with our endeavor to ‘Think Global, Act Local’, we have involved themselves in numerous projects and missions spread across the globe, to advance the 17 UN SDGs, while fostering Sustainable Development.
Learn more about us here.
GrassRoots Hub Ghana is an eco-entrepreneurship and SDGs Innovation Lab with a global community of grassrooters sharing and generating insights and ideas to ensure impact from local communities to global level. GrassRoots educate, innovate and incubate start-ups and connect accelerators to leading companies, research institutions, foundations, non-profits, and investors. GrassRoots Hub, Ghana’s first Social Impact dedicated to accelerating progress towards the achievement of the SDGs has co-hosted Global SDG Talent Hack-UNLEASH 2020 in Ghana and incubated start-ups after its SDG Challenge and Roadshows and as well sponsored winners to four International SDG innovation Hackathon.
Learn more about GrassRoots Hub Ghana here.
Youth Advocates Ghana (YAG) is a Ghana-based NPO dedicated to restoring hope, educating and improving the well-being of vulnerable children, young people and their communities. Among different projects and initiatives, YAG has been spearheading the organization of the African Youth SDGs Summit, a Africa-wide advocacy platform to further SDG awareness and attainment.
Learn more about Youth Advocates Ghana here.
TECHFARM Hub is an Innovation and Business Development Hub promoting disruptive knowledge, mindset, skills, technologies and resources to upscale young Innovators, Entrepreneurs, Agripreneurs and Startups solve pertinent challenges and become productive and profitable.
Learn more about TECHFARM Hub Ghana here.
The African Youth SDGs Summit is Africa’s largest youth forum on the Sustainable Development Goals. Launched in 2017, the Summit has evolved to bring together a multi-sector coalition of youth, development experts, government and UN entities, NGOs and the private sector to create the Africa we want together. On 4-5 November 2020, the 3rd African Youth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit will convene again: this time, on the world’s largest stage! For more information and to register, click here.
The African Youth SDGs Summit is Africa’s largest youth forum on the Sustainable Development Goals. Launched in 2017, the Summit has evolved to bring together a multi-sector coalition of youth, development experts, government and UN entities, NGOs and the private sector to create the Africa we want together.
On 4-5 November 2020, the 3rd African Youth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit will convene again: this time, on the world’s largest stage!
For more information and to register, click here.