At the time of joining my first Climathon in 2018, I was working as a programme coordinator at Impact Hub. With Impact Hub we build entrepreneurial communities with a focus on scalable impact.
Through our partnership with Climate-KIC and other national partners we were in a position to host the Climathon. For me, it was a great opportunity to put climate change behind the steering wheel of Khartoum’s future outlook.
Although Climathon is a simultaneous worldwide event - and that energy can definitely be felt - every city stands on its own and has their own success stories and challenges to work through.
My hope is that by giving a bit of my perspective on what worked for us, it will inspire future Local Organisers to leapfrog to even more success for their own cities.
When looking back at the past two years there are three key elements that made our Climathons a success.
Climate change is not a topic that is ‘daily consumed’ in Sudan.
Like in many places around the world, people have other priorities, like providing for their family, access to safe food and water, and contributing to the economy. So the challenge for us in organising the Climathon was to have people see and understand that these issues are related.
Our vessel for doing so was the public symposium. It allowed us to present climate change along the lines of concepts that spoke directly to the audience - and potential participants.
We looked at topics such as peace, economy, and agriculture, and their direct linkages to climate change in Sudan. This gave a very real and practical voice to climate change in the daily lives of the people in Khartoum.
It turned out to be a huge success and the application forms came flooding in. We had a pool of over 300 people in 2018 and 200 in 2019. It put us in a luxury position where we could really hone in on the commitment of the participant and the viability of the ideas presented.
“Although Climathon is a simultaneous worldwide event - and that energy can definitely be felt - every city stands on its own”
Having 30 bright minds in a room for 24 hours working on climate change solutions is a terrific gathering of positive energy. But we wanted to go the extra mile and prepare them as best as we could. In 2019 we hosted 2 pre-ideation workshops of 4 hours each. These happened a few days prior to the Climathon.
Through the help of our technical partner, we were able to share a solid scientific basis on climate change and combine those insights with our National Adaptation Plan. This increased the viability of the ideas.
The first workshop focused on the key challenges of our climathon. The second one was more business-oriented. Think of elements such as design thinking, prototyping solutions and business models. We finished the second session with a short capacity workshop on how to deliver a successful pitch.
If I could give any advice to Local Organisers, it would be to host pre-ideation workshops. They help set the tone and give deeper insights into what is happening on a local level, and how to best align their ideas with that.
The third success factor was the way we formed our participant’s teams. Or better yet, we had a trial and error approach and eventually, the best method came up.
In 2018 we looked at all the participants as pieces of a puzzle and tried to fit them accordingly. Through personality tests, we mixed and mashed people together. It didn’t really work out as we hoped. So in 2019, we decided to go with a more fluid route.
At the start of the Climathon 24 hours we gave a short intro into the dynamics of a good team.
Then we had a 1,5 hour ‘speeddating’ session where participants could share their ideas for the Climathon. This was followed by people choosing their own teams. It was much more harmonious and I would say we’d definitely go with this method again.
Lastly, there are a few practical matters that will end up saving you time and energy.
It’s of high importance that you create a well-tailored project plan and delegate tasks carefully amongst the team members. If Climathon taught me one thing, it’s that it is not a one-man show and only a group effort can create success.
The second thing is that it’s crucial for the local organizers to outline their key values and objectives before reaching out to sponsors or partners.
And in terms of challenge curation, it’s always better to have a solid scientific basis for the context of the challenges and to have them aligned with the national policies of the country.
Climathon has taught me a lot about what happens if motivated people come together for the greater good.
The whole experience has broadened and deepened my network and knowledge of the challenges of our time, and more importantly, how we can address them.