How Climathon helped raise Trondheim’s international profile

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My name is Chin-Yu and I’ve been working in climate policy and action implementation for about 10 years, starting at the regional government level and now at the municipality level.

I am currently a climate advisor for the City of Trondheim, which is home to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In our case, we have held five rounds of Climathon and I have always been the local organiser. 

I started my job as a city coordinator where I was involved in a big EU proposal that laid the foundation for +CityxChange (Positive City ExChange), a smart city project that aims to establish 100% renewable energy regions by 2050.

We wanted Trondheim to be an attractive candidate for the proposal and demonstrate that we were an internationally active city in the EU and beyond. I had the feeling we needed to tap into the aspect of citizen engagement and I found Climathon’s approach to be very relevant to this need.

Because of the programme’s global reach, we also saw an opportunity to raise Trondheim’s international visibility. So, I took on the responsibility to host the first round of Climathon Trondheim back in 2016.

The great thing about joining the Climathon community is that you are exposed to a lot of expertise from around the world on how to engage citizens. The important part is to use EIT Climate-KIC’s methodology to develop your own version. Design your own process based on what you’ve learned while meeting your own needs. 

Final pitch at Climathon Trondheim 2018. Photo by: Kjetil Groven

Final pitch at Climathon Trondheim 2018. Photo by: Kjetil Groven

Our situation is quite unique because we tried to connect Climathon to this bigger EU project, using a similar methodology that could be adopted to a large-scale network of European cities: Trondheim, Norway; Limerick, Ireland; Alba Iulia, Romania; Písek, Czech Republic; Sestao, Spain; Smolyan, Bulgaria; and Võru, Estonia. 

With support from our project partner, Space Engagers based in Ireland, we have had many meetings to inform, engage and support these cities with implementing their own Climathons. In a way, we act as the link between EIT Climate-KIC and the follower cities to create synergies with the EU project.

You can see that the Climathon torch has been extended from one city to another, while it is still burning strong in Trondheim. 

“Because of Climathon’s global reach, we saw an opportunity to raise Trondheim’s international visibility.”
CHIN-YU LEE, LOCAL ORGANISER, CLIMATHON TRONDHEIM, NORWAY

What’s interesting about Climathon is that the format has evolved dramatically over the course of five years. In the beginning, it was rather rigid and all the local organisers were asked to host 24-hour events. 

When it changed from a hackathon to an ideathon, it became more flexible to the needs of the city and more available to a broader audience. 

Local Organiser Chin-Yu Lee with student participants from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Climathon Trondheim 2019. Photo by: Hallvar Hauge Johnsen

Local Organiser Chin-Yu Lee with student participants from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Climathon Trondheim 2019. Photo by: Hallvar Hauge Johnsen

These are the key takeaways of my journey with Climathon:

1. Know your citizens. Our events have always been dominated by students so in 2020 we design the event specifically for them in partnership with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

2. Adapt your event to current needs. We delivered a fully digital version of Climathon in a challenging year of COVID-19. 

3. Find your drive as a local organiser. What encouraged me to keep organising Climathon again and again was the enthusiasm that came from the participants. Even though they were totally exhausted after 24 hours of work, I could see the sparkle in their eyes. 

4. Choose a challenge that will resonate with your citizens. The most important thing is that the participants feel empowered, that they learn something, and they feel like they have contributed to something bigger

5. Design your own Climathon version using the methodology. You have to provide participants with bits and pieces of possibilities of what the solutions could look like. Try to mobilise them to think about a new combination of looking at things to solve the problem. 

My best advice for new local organisers is to find the local relevance in your challenge. Try to make it attractive to citizens and bring it down to their level. Ask yourself: Why is this interesting to them?

As long as they find the challenge relevant, it doesn't matter what their background is. Anyone can participate in the collaboration of an amazing idea.

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Thanks to our global partners