Two innovative projects took home the first Climate Challenge Cup, following an innovation showcase at the recent COP26 in Glasgow.
The international competition uncovered civic research partnerships in the US and UK that are tackling climate change.
Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation, which hosted the Cup, said:
The Climate Challenge Cup shows a new kind of activism is taking hold, It celebrates social, sustainable innovation that busts through silos, disciplines and sectors to bring actors with a shared vision but different resources together to create real change.
The Green ERA Renewable Energy and Urban Farm in South Chicago was awarded the prize for climate adaptation. The project recognises that while demand for locally-grown food is increasing, there is an inadequate supply of clean, healthy soil as it is often contaminated with high levels of lead, toxins from gasoline, and heavy metals from factories.
A vacant nine-acre brownfield site is therefore being transformed, creating 25 jobs and diverting inedible food waste from landfills to produce clean, renewable energy and nutrient-rich soil. This will be used to grow more fresh, local food on the rest of the site. Partners include the University of Illinois in Chicago, Green Era, who will run the site, and Urban Grower’s Collective, a non-profit led by black, indigenous, and other people of colour (BIPOC) who have a longstanding relationship with the local community.
In the UK, Concrete4Change won the prize in the net zero category. Concrete4Change has developed a new technology that can extract carbon from the air and store it in concrete. This can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 60%. Concrete4Change worked with multiple partners, including universities and construction professionals, to assess the robustness and environmental credentials of the product, which is now being trialed on sites around the UK.
A finalist in each category was also ‘highly commended’ in the Climate Challenge Cup awards gala; the Marshall Plan for Middle America was celebrated in the net zero category, for helping the Appalachian region of the US move to regenerative industries, as was a project training citizens to capture temperature and water level data to help local government model the impact of climate change in South Florida in the climate adaptation category.
Daze Aghaji, a climate and justice activist, and a Climate Challenge Cup judge added:
The Climate Challenge Cup showcases the need for people from different parts of the system – government, universities and communities – to work together on creating a regenerative, rather than extractive, society.
Image: Finalist in the competition, The Cholderton Estate, from the Young Foundation