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IdeaSquare helps young innovators participating in the Crowd4SDG challenge put their ideas into action

The Crowd4SDG consortium promotes citizen science aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on climate action



Why are you passionate about solving issues around water resilience, and why do you think your idea will make a difference? Those were the questions that five teams of students from Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, China, India, the USA and Europe set out to answer during a two-week online workshop organised by the IdeaSquare team at CERN. They followed a series of lectures, workshops and daily assignments using design thinking, among other innovative methodologies, to polish and prototype their initial ideas. These teams were the finalists of the first call for ideas of the Crowd4SDG project, which sparked the interest of more than 100 students worldwide.

The Crowd4SDG consortium (made up of the University of Geneva, CERN, the Spanish National Research Council and its Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, Politecnico di Milano, the United Nations Institute for Research and Training, and the University of Paris and its Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity) promotes citizen science aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on climate action. Its goal is to assess the usefulness of practical innovations developed by the teams, and to research and investigate how artificial-intelligence applications can enhance and provide effective monitoring of SDG targets and indicators by citizens.

The initiatives organized by Crowd4SDG follow a robust innovation cycle called GEAR (gather, evaluate, accelerate, refine). The GEAR cycle started with an online selection and coaching of citizen-generated ideas for climate action in autumn 2020. The most promising projects were then accelerated during a Challenge-Based Innovation Workshop run by IdeaSquare at CERN in January 2021. The top two projects will be further refined at the annual SDG conference in March to give them a boost on their path towards creating real impact. You can find descriptions of the projects on the Crowd4SDG website.

“After two weeks of watching the participants working hard, it was very inspiring to hear them say they now believed that, if they put their heart into it, they could really make a difference,” Laura Wirtavuori, IdeaSquare at CERN.

The students’ work, along with best practices from other citizen science projects, will be presented and discussed during an online annual SDG conference, this year part of the Geneva Trialogue, on 18 March at 5.00 p.m. CET. To register: https://gt-initiative.org/events/geneva-trialogue/geneva-trialogue-2021/