The long-term impact of a Climathon

Climathon 2017 Zürich, Vorauswahl 02 (2)

Planning a Climathon requires you to know what you want to achieve with the event and have the long-term perspective in-mind. Things will not change automatically, and certainly not overnight, so this is why Climathon organisers execute their campaigns with a clear vision for impact.
As an organiser you will always face barriers (such as funding) to achieve your envisioned impact, but with the right plan and preparation you can overcome most of these barriers.
In this article you can get insights from our experienced Climathon organisers, that might help you start envisioning what impact you would like to have with your Climathon. 

Climathon Mexico City 
Climathon Mexico City is organised by a group of passionate volunteers who utilize their network to engage people and ensure a structured follow-up. “The follow-up from Climathon is something that we are very focused on”, says Alexa Islas, one of the organisers of Climathon Mexico. “After the Climathon it is important for us to be in contact with all the teams, not just the winners of the Climathon”.
A great example of this, is from the Climathon in 2018 when one of the teams, that did not win, took the initiative to start a climate organisation at their school and asked Alexa and her team for support. Based on their experience from Climathon, the team wanted to raise awareness about climate change in their school to get more people involved in movements such as Climathon.

Through Climathon, Alexa and the team have built a strong network of people in Mexico City who want to participate in or volunteer for climate-related activities such as Climathon. Having a strong network enables Alexa and her team to include courses and access to specific programmes as prizes for Climathon teams that can help them progress. “Last year (2021), one of our volunteers offered that winning teams could join his entrepreneurship programme for free and that all other teams could contact him for advice on next steps”.

The role of the city is so important to Alexa and her team as they can provide specific support and align their projects with the teams following the Climathon. “Being connected to a global movement such as Climathon is a huge advantage when trying to engage the local city”. One of the great examples of the impact that Climathon has had in Mexico City is from one of the participating teams in 2020. The team developed an algorithm to evaluate the quality of life of trees in Mexico City, thereby having an analysis of which areas would show good opportunities for becoming greener and what specific trees would grow well in different parts of the city. The team is now negotiating with the government of Mexico City on how to implement their idea. Overall, Climathon in Mexico City has contributed to a broader interest in climate action. More people are now contacting Alexa and her team to get information about how to take part in the climate action work in Mexico City.  

Climathon Pasig 
For the people of Pasig, Philippines the Climathon represents more than an event. “It's really advocacy that we feel very passionate and strongly about, and we want to do our part. That's really the initial premise of Climathon”, says Carla Mumar founder of SCALE Solutions and the Climathon organiser in Pasig. “Climathon provides a platform and a methodology, we bring the people to make it all come together. Once partners understand this, they look at you in a very different way. This is passion driven and there's a social impact behind it”, says Carla. 

Ensuring a proper follow-up is key to the success of Climathon Pasig. Therefore, Carla and her team make sure that teams understand that prize money is not for personal use. “We tell the team to not think about how their idea will make a revenue, but rather focus on their passion and showcasing that the idea works”. “We teach the teams about project management, building relationships, community and things that can help them become successful with their pilot”, says Carla. Once the teams are ready to scale, Carla and her team will connect them with coaches and mentors. This is important because not all teams are going to develop a business based on their idea. Some have handed over their ideas to the city, so the city can continue the work. “For us it is more about building partnerships, this is what I call the Bayanihan innovation - a Filipino term meaning communities coming together to help each other. So, you are exchanging resources not just monetary, we are helping each other through time, skills and expertise. The ultimate goal is to really drive change and have an impact in the city and address our climate challenges”, Carla says. 

The relationship with the City of Pasig is very important for Climathon Pasig. Therefore, Carla and her team spent a lot of time building the right connections within the city. “We touch base with the city every quarter and give them updates on the progression of Climathon – We don’t just want to reach out to them when the event is approaching”, says Carla.  

In terms of organising the Climathon, Climathon Pasig gets a lot of volunteers who are helping out with everything from promotion to supporting on the day. Some of the volunteers used to be participants and they wanted to help out with the event the next year.  

Sari Cycling and Cloop, two winners from past Climathons, have spearheaded a center, with the support of the local city administration, in downtown Pasig, dedicated to supporting and implementing ideas from Climathon. “The City of Pasig is really helping them scale by expanding the center. We actually call it the Climathon Center, as more teams from Climathon Pasig join the space to advance their ideas”, says Carla. The teams use the center a place to connect with and help each other. 

Sari Cycling have now received additional funding from the United Nations Development Program through the local government. They are using the funding to develop a materials recovery facility, together with Cloop, to support waste management and segregation in Pasig.

Climathon Zürich
Climathon Zürich is one of the longest running Climathons. “Climathon has provided a platform for us to raise awareness about local climate challenges. Finding ideas that could turn into projects have been a part of this, but this has not been the single goal”, says Laurene Descamps from Impact Hub Zürich, the organiser of Climathon Zürich.
“Through Climathon, we have strengthened our relationship and collaboration with the City of Zürich and relevant actors in the city. So much so, that Climathon Zürich is now part of a bigger mandate (Klimaforum) from the city of Zurich to help implement their climate action plan”, says Laurene. This means that Climathon in Zürich has gone from being focused on raising awareness and strengthening networks, to now focusing on building new projects that can be tested and potentially implemented as part of the City of Zürichs climate action plan. To get to this point has required time and effort on behalf of Impact Hub. "Really utilizing the Climathon as a platform to get stakeholders together to discuss and ideate, has been a key component in this", says Laurene Descamps.

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