Global Earth Challenge

Change for good: Earth Challenge 2020 hosts first international hackathon at Cannes Lions

When the environmental movement combines with the world’s greatest advertising and tech minds, we have the power to change the world! Last week, members of Earth Day Network and the Earth Challenge 2020 team had the pleasure of attending the Cannes Lions festival of creativity in Southern France to host the “Change for Good” hackathon. Over the course of five days, six teams from around the world competed to develop products and marketing strategies that advance Earth Challenge 2020’s key research questions. The hackathon, hosted in collaboration with Huge and Amazon, is in support of Earth Challenge 2020, a global initiative by Earth Day Network, the U.S. Department of State and the Wilson Center to further citizen science and promote environmental action. The initiative will be launched on April 20, 2020 to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. After being selected from a pool of over 50 applications, the top six teams flew in from countries as far-flung as the Philippines to attend the festival, the world’s largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry. With only two days to formulate their ideas, the six teams got straight to work to tackling the world’s largest environmental issues. After less than 48 hours, the teams were asked to present their ideas for the first round of judging. The impressive solutions addressed issues around water quality, air quality, climate change, biodiversity, plastic pollution, and food sustainability. However, only three, “Garden Buddies” by McCann (Romania), “Clean Water” by Wunder (Canada), and “#Thiers” by Rehab (UK) would move on to the final round. The remaining three teams spent the next day consulting experts from the Earth Challenge team, refining their ideas, and perhaps catching a few minutes of sun and inspiration on the beaches of the French Riviera. On the last day of the festival, the three remaining firms — McCann, Rehab, and Wunder — gave their final pitches. After much deliberation, a global panel of judges was thrilled to award Rehab London with a Gold Lion for its citizen science campaign idea, ‘#Theirs’. The Silver and Bronze winners went to “Garden Solutions” by McCann Worldgroup (Romania) and “Clean Water” by Wunder Inc (Canada), respectively. As the winning campaign of the Change for Good Hackathon, ‘#Theirs’ uses social media and technology to bring attention to the issue of air pollution and the negative effects it can have on human health. “We want people to leverage the technology they already use to contribute data to Earth Challenge 2020,” said the team during their presentation. The campaign asks people to photograph a landmark with the sky in the background and text, or WhatsApp the image to a machine learning algorithm that will evaluate each image for air quality and feedback the information to the individual. In addition, two weeks ahead of Earth Day, the team will launch a Trojan horse campaign, grabbing people’s attention through billboards and press coverage and drive engagement to the Earth Challenge app for longer-term activism. The “Change for Good” hackathon is the second hackathon hosted in support of Earth Challenge 2020. More global hackathons are set for this summer and fall.
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