How do we create innovative and sustainable solutions to climate-related challenges affecting communities and cities in Rwanda and across Africa? This is what, climate advocates, entrepreneurs, economists, NGOs, digital innovators and environmental experts set out to work on at Saturday’s Climathon at Impact Hub Kigali.
Organized in collaboration between World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), ICLE and Impact Hub Kigali, the Climathon aimed to use creativity, teamwork and cross-sector collaboration to come up with tangible projects and business ideas that can tackle climate-based challenges. With a special focus addressing challenges around food, water, energy and transport, participants came together for an early morning Umuganda brainstorm and continued working until the sun had already set over Kigali to come up with innovative, sustainable and implementable solutions to climate-related challenges affecting urban life in Kigali – and Africa at large.
Two representatives from WWF in Zambia and Uganda travelled to Kigali to find inspiration in Rwanda’s approach to creating green cities and come up with sustainable solutions.
“Kigali is a pioneer in Africa when it comes to sustainable city planning, so we asked Impact Hub Kigali to create this event with us so we can have a chance to learn from people and institutions in Kigali, brainstorm, generate new ideas and come up with projects and practical solutions to climate-driven challenges that can be implemented in Kigali, Lusaka and all over Africa. It’s been a fantastic day and we are excited to come back to Kigali with a larger group to continue the work”, said Bwendo Kabanda from WWF Zambia. The event was part of WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge, which they are carrying out in different African cities together with ICLEI.
Sally Murray from International Growth Center participated in the all-day event and gave a keynote address on her research on climate smart cities carried out in Kigali. According to her, a climathon is a perfect setting to come up with new, innovative solutions.
“When a mix of people and backgrounds come together like today we can tackle climate challenges from different angles. We’re focusing on developing practical solutions that can actually be implemented and maybe even run as businesses, and this is a great way of testing ideas that we wouldn’t have come up with on our own.”
After a busy and collaborative day, six groups of participants pitched their projects to overcome some of Kigali’s challenges in green, sustainable ways. Ranging from electronic waste management, sustainable cooking stoves, turning waste into energy and setting up composting systems in schools, the projects all looked at specific ways of introducing green and innovative solutions to communities and cities.
Alex Mulisa, Coordinator for Rwanda’s Green Fund, FONERWA, observed the presentations with great enthusiasm.
“This is exactly what we need; innovative ideas to address green challenges.
Fornerwa was set up because we need ideas from people like you. I see projects here today, which have the potentials of accessing funding and turned into reality. Sustainable solutions start as ideas like the ones we’ve seen here today. They are transforming Rwanda into a sustainable and green place that we can be proud of”, he said in his address to the participants.
The winning project will be announced on November 29th, when a larger WWF delegation comes back to Rwanda to continue where they left off last Saturday. The winning team will win one year of office space in Impact Hub to continue developing their project and turn it into a tangible solution to make Kigali an even greener city.