Young people get set to tackle world's biggest challenges

Young people from around the world will receive dedicated support and mentoring as they tackle some of our planet's most significant challenges at the Forum for Global Challenges Hackathon in March this year.

A young woman sitting on a park bench and smiling whilst using a laptop in an Autumn setting

Young people from around the world will receive dedicated support and mentoring as they tackle some of our planet’s most significant challenges at the Forum for Global Challenges Hackathon in March this year.

Teams of up to five young people, aged between 18 and 25, from Birmingham and beyond have the opportunity to take part in a Global Hackathon to crack a challenge related to future cities, education and employment or the green economy. They will use the circular framework methodology – a means of creating sustainable solutions that are good for business, people and the environment.

The winning solutions will be chosen by the team of experts behind May’s Forum for Global Challenges, with teams then presenting their solutions to the main conference and up to 3,000 high profile, international delegates.

Amongst a range of partners, academics and speakers supporting the Hackathon, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will be providing dedicated mentoring to teams throughout, as well as advising them as they develop their solutions.

Harrison Wavell, Schools & Colleges Programme Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said: “Young people have the benefit of not being trapped in a mindset of how things ‘should’ be done, they are more interested in what ‘could’ be done. Care, curiosity, and a willingness to challenge the status quo are the gifts they have to offer. Only by empowering young people do we stand a chance of realising the full potential of a powerful idea like the circular economy.”

At the Forum for Global Challenges, we will work together to address some of the most pressing challenges we all face, but the effects of these issues, like climate change, will be felt most of all by young people.  We know that with the support of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and others, young people will come up with solutions that others won’t have thought of before and that’s really exciting. I would like to encourage anyone between the age of 18 and 25 with an interest in sustainability to come and join us in addressing these critical issues.

Dr Gabriela Da Silva Xavier, Associate Professor in Cellular Metabolism and Hackathon Lead at the University of Birmingham

Young people looking to enter the Hackathon can register online. here. Teams will be allocated when the Hackathon commences in March. The team at the Forum for Global Challenges will then assign individuals to teams to ensure they get the most out of the experience and work with a diverse range of people.

Taking part in the Hackathon will give participants the chance to:

  • Receive support and mentoring from global experts, including academics, Forum partners and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Collaborate with four other young people around the world to develop solutions
  • Develop proposal writing and creative skills
  • Have their work presented to up to 3,000 conference attendees
  • And a range of other benefits

There is also still time for businesses to get involved with the Hackathon and support teams in developing their solutions.

The Global Hackathon is a key part of the Forum for Global Challenges. From 3 to 5 May this year, some of today’s most influential thinkers and doers will gather in Birmingham for the Forum – a major international meeting to showcase and generate solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by the planet and its people.

A 3,000-delegate event, combining a face-to-face conference at the ICC Birmingham with a fully online interactive format, the Forum’s hybrid design means that people from around the globe can take part with low-carbon impact.

It brings together world leaders, business and thought leaders, policy makers, practitioners and academics from around the world to find solutions to problems in the following areas:

  • Green Economy
  • Food & Nutrition Security
  • Education & Employment
  • Gender Equality
  • The Future of Cities
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Restoring Nature
  • Mobilities & Migration

The Forum aims to create a far-reaching legacy in five main areas:

  • Helping to create better policy and practice locally, nationally and globally
  • Discovering effective partnerships that focus on solutions
  • Educating the next generation of leaders, practitioners, policymakers and the public
  • Developing international initiatives
  • Inspiring young people to get involved in overcoming these challenges

The Forum for Global Challenges is supported by The World Bank, UNESCO, The Association of Commonwealth Universities, UNDP, CBI, West Midlands Combined Authority, UK Research and Innovation, Thomson Reuters Foundation and the West Midlands Growth Company

Notes for editors

  • For more information please contact Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications, University of Birmingham or alternatively, contact the Press Office out of hours on +44 (0)7789 921165.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • It hosts the Institute for Global Innovation (IGI), a research institute focused on world-leading, multi- and inter-disciplinary research that seeks to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The IGI’s research themes revolve around understanding and finding solutions to factors that challenge, and sometimes threaten, the sustainability and resilience of individuals, communities, societies, and the world as a whole.
  • IGI’s main themes now include clean air, resilient cities, water challenges in a changing world, gender inequality, and 21st century transnational crime. IGI’s emerging themes include clean cooling, antimicrobial resistance, and ageing and frailty.
  • Notable speakers taking part include: Dr Dhananjayan (Danny) Sriskandarajah, CEO Oxfam GB, Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO and Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director, Oxford Martin School; author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, World Bank Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, and Vice President for Compliance Sandie Okoro, and former UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell.
  • Birmingham research experts taking part in the forum include: