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What is the SDG Innovation Challenge?

The SDG Innovation Challenge is a virtual ideathon for motivated young people to develop practical solution ideas for challenges faced in their local communities at the grassroots level.

By engaging in an approx. 50 hours online hackathon-style environment, participants will connect around shared interests in challenges faced by their communities, and, in interdisciplinary teams of 4-7 people, work together throughout the SDG Innovation Challenge to unpack a problem statement of their choice, and design tangible solution ideas encircling our three focus SDGs

Good Health and Well Being
Quality Education
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


The maiden edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge took place from 26 – 28 October 2020. The three winning ideas and teams had the pristine opportunity to showcase their solutions virtually at the 3rd African Youth SDG Summit, Africa’s biggest Sustainable Development Youth congregation.

Find out what happened during the SDG Innovation Challenge 2020 here!

The SDG Innovation Challenge is on!

Almost 250 young, passionate SDG practitioners, advocates and leaders pan-Africa participated in the SDG Innovation Challenge on Oct 26-28 2020, and formed part of an interdisciplinary team to produce innovative solutions to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals beyond the COVID-19 pandemic! In just 2.5 days, participants developed and pitched their solution ideas, and competed with the best minds from the African continent for an opportunity to present at the prestigious AYSDG Summit 2020, and more!

Experience a unique virtual innovation marathon encompassing youth-led sustainable development.

Theme: Securing the 2030 commitment beyond the post-COVID-19 era

The SDG Innovation Challenge provides a collaborative ideation space for young people to trigger fresh thinking and prototype novel ideas that can transcend into tangible action to advance the SDGs.

Young people of today are the torchbearers of our legacy and imprint on this planet. Issues such as extreme poverty, climate change, increasing inequality, quality education, demanding accountability have occupied the centerstage today, and young people have the right as well as the responsibility to lead the Agenda 2030 forward, and strengthen partnerships with a fresh paradigm for development.

With the SDG Innovation Challenge, we’re fostering knowledge sharing, cooperation, and the prioritization of pressing issues concerning an increasingly complex and diverse global society.

The innovation challenge opens new avenues for young women and men across the African continent – and possibly beyond – to localize the SDGs, catalyzing purpose-driven interactions, and systematically increase the youth-led impact on SDG attainment.

Our participants are ready to take one step closer towards reimagining equitable, developed, and sustainable communities!

Why Participate?

There are numerous reasons one should participate in the SDG Innovation Challenge. Here are a few of them:

  • Access to an unorthodox, dynamic, and diverse platform of youth activists, organizations, and legislators – Tap into a conducive online space to converge around practical SDG solutions!
  • A much-needed opportunity to visualize and implement the SDGs at the grassroots level – Participate in the making of our future, and jumpstart your involvement in the Agenda 2030 as an active, passionate global citizen.
  • Immense networking potential – Build connections, and be part of a community of practice around eco-systemic, collaborative solutions.
  • A space to exercise your global citizenship muscle – Sharpen and hone your skills in leadership, innovative thinking, analytic thinking, interpersonal communication, intercultural collaboration, and allied areas.
  • Sourcing diversity of thought, background, and sector – Collaborate with people from a plethora of domains, be it engineering, design, civic policy, social justice reform, project management, finance, education, and many others.

How to Participate?

You want to work across domains and gain insights into the brightest minds working in the fields of SDGs 3, 4, and 9? Here is an opportunity for all young social innovators to change the world one idea at a time!

The SDG Innovation Challenge is open to participation for young people across Africa. What do we seek from participants?

  • A strong passion and investment in one of the focus SDGs: Good Health and Well Being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9)
  • The motivation to engage pro-actively throughout the event
  • A genuine interest in re-imagining and contributing to advancing sustainable development in your community and beyond
  • The ability to work in an interdisciplinary team from different domains and geographies
  • Motivation to extensively ideate throughout the SDG Innovation Challenge and work in an agile ‘hackathon-like’ environment
  • The commitment to take the idea to completion and remain engaged with the cause post the SDG Innovation Challenge

Registration to the challenge happens on an individual basis.

Following the registration deadline, participants will receive further instructions about the activities and the technologies deployed during the event. And then, the challenge is on: participants will be asked to form an interdisciplinary team with the other registrants and, together, develop a solution idea and/or prototype, which they will present in form of a short video pitch at the end of the event.

Our approach

Awareness, Responsibility, Action: Our three-fold approach to achieving the 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 analyse, 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 sustainable development in order to effect collective impact at the local level while pushing the needle globally.


The SDG Innovation Challenge is a 50-hours innovation marathon. We're following a paced process that puts participants in charge to manage their time freely, using the following schedule as orientation.

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: