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SDG Innovation Challenge - Advancing Sustainable Development Pan-Africa

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 48 hours, participants form interdisciplinary innovation teams of 4-7 people to emerge with fresh 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.

Our three-fold approach to furthering Agenda 2030

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 toward tackling them

ACTION, i.e. practical tools, experiences, and skills to drive and intersect sustainable development to effect collective impact at the local level while pushing the needle globally.

The Genesis

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.

Our Audience

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 African Youth SDGs Summit

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.

A unique pan-African innovation space that scripts SDG success stories!

Registrations for the next SDG Innovation Challenge will not open until mid-2023, but here's how you can join us in building and leveraging youth capacity towards SDG action.

Organizers & Partners

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: