Young innovators shaping breakthrough climate solutions showcase at COP28

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Climate founders under 30 will present their innovations at COP28 in a state-of-the-art holographic exhibition as part of UNICEF Innovation30.

Innovation30: Young Climate Innovators Shaping the Future aims to curate a pipeline of scientifically proven and scalable solutions to the climate crisis developed by young people under 30, and – importantly – to unlock the financial capital for these founders, enabling them to reach maximum climate impact. At COP 28 in Dubai, innovators from 19 countries, who have been selected by the Innovation30 panel, will present their solutions via a series of 3D holographic projections.

“Young people across the globe already have the creativity and tenacity to develop intelligent solutions that will help us to tackle climate change; it is only with the right support and investment, however, that they will be able to develop their ideas and experiences into successful, scalable and sustainable solutions for generations to come.” Alyssa Gilbert Director of Undaunted & Director of Innovation at the Grantham Institute

Imperial is part of UNICEF’s consortium of academic partners and accelerators working together on Innovation30: commissioned through Imperial Consultants, the team includes independent researchers from across Imperial's academic community, and experts from Undaunted.

“It is vital that we create effective pipelines into climate innovation for young talent on an international scale,” says Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Undaunted, who led the team of independent experts from Imperial.

“Young people across the globe already have the creativity and tenacity to develop intelligent solutions that will help us to tackle climate change; it is only with the right support and investment, however, that they will be able to develop their ideas and experiences into successful, scalable and sustainable solutions for generations to come”.

The initiative aligns with Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, and places young innovators centre stage as stakeholders, technical experts, and designers driving climate solutions. Through Innovation30, UNICEF aims to facilitate the further scale up of their innovations to reach every child and their communities, everywhere through the organization’s presence in over 190 countries.

The slideshow below shows some of the young innovators who have been selected to take part in Innovation30. Meet the whole cohort of young climate founders showcasing at COP28 here.

  • Marybel Montoya Alvarez, founder of Fungi Life

    Marybel Montoya Alvarez, founder of Fungi Life

  • Beren Kayali, co-founder of Deploy Tech

    Beren Kayali, co-founder of Deploy Tech

  • Yaye Souadou Fall, co-founder of E-Cover

    Yaye Souadou Fall, co-founder of E-Cover

  • Abiel Ma, co-founder of Vuala

    Abiel Ma, co-founder of Vuala

  • Emily Taylor, co-founder of SAGES

    Emily Taylor, co-founder of SAGES

  • Noël Obognon, CEO of Agro-Eco Services

    Noël Obognon, CEO of Agro-Eco Services

  • Ajinkya Dhariya, founder of PadCare Labs

    Ajinkya Dhariya, founder of PadCare Labs

A call for critical investment

The foremost existential crisis of our time is climate change with grave implications on the lives of children. Young people are seen as climate activists and advocates, but more than that, they are problem solvers. Thomas Davin Director, UNICEF Office of Innovation

From air pollution reduction to renewable energy sources, waste management systems to climate-resilient food and water, water conservation to disaster preparedness, Innovation30 showcases investor-ready scalable solutions. Investing in the innovative ideas of these young founders yields a return of a climate-resilient future for all.

"The foremost existential crisis of our time is climate change with grave implications on the lives of children," says Thomas Davin, Director, UNICEF Office of Innovation. "Young people are seen as climate activists and advocates, but more than that, they are problem solvers. Innovation30 pulls into focus game changing youth-led solutions with the potential to turn the tide on climate change.

"Investing in sustainable child-focused climate solutions is not only conscientious, but also economically prudent, and backing scientifically vetted and scalable innovators is the loudest signal of commitment to securing a climate resilient future for us all.  Audacious investment is urgently needed to build and deliver pipelines of youth led climate innovations and grow the green economy this and future generations will come to depend on for a healthier and safer planet".

Securing a liveable planet for future generations

The Climate Changed Child – a UNICEF report released ahead of the COP28 climate change summit – throws a spotlight on the threat to children as a result of water vulnerability, one of the ways in which the impacts of climate change are being felt. It provides an analysis of the impacts of three tiers of water security globally – water scarcity, water vulnerability, and water stress*. Innovation30 is part of UNICEF’s call at COP28 to world leaders and the international community to take critical steps with and for children and young people to secure a liveable planet.

Only 2.4% of climate finance from major Multilateral Climate Funds goes towards child-responsive activities. Innovation30 collaborates with existing climate financing funds and stakeholders to unlock financial capital for young innovators to reach maximum climate impact through their innovations. With 3.8 billion of the world’s population now under the age of 30 – the largest generation of young people the world has ever seen – the potential for progress is unlimited.

Every second of inaction that goes is like building a road to a dead end and we may never be able to find our way back from it. Samuel Muyita Founder of Karpolax

"Young people harness the power of innovation with an open mind to discovering solutions for a world in need of change and transformation. The main challenge young innovators face is securing support and overcoming the barriers of mindsets and fear of failure set as precedents from previous generations," says Marybel Montoya Alvarez, Colombia. Nominated by the Royal Academy of Engineering for Innovation30, Marybel created Fungi Life at the age of 26. The solution applies sustainable biotechnology to address industrial pollution and ecological degradation. 

"Action must be taken now and not left to tomorrow. Every second of inaction that goes is like building a road to a dead end and we may never be able to find our way back from it," says Samuel Muyita aged 25 from Uganda. He is the creator of Karpolax a solution that uses enzymes to extend the shelf life of fruits, nominated by MIT Solve.

A message to investors and world leaders

The initiative not only showcases young founders, it sends a message to global investors and world leaders that youth-led climate solutions are impactful, scalable and investment ready. “Seven years ago, I was told to look at my idea as a lifestyle business and not as something I could scale. Today, the same person is an investor in the business," says Kaushal Shah from India, aged 23 when he created EnvoBarrier. The sustainable flexible packaging solution was selected by Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) to participate in Innovation30.

The solutions selected were scientifically vetted by a panel of 23 scientists against set criteria of: positive impact on children, potential to scale, contribution to climate change adaptation or mitigation, business sustainability, risk of harm and patent potential within market setting and competition.

"With a world facing crises on multiple fronts it’s vital that we empower young people to lead us into a positive future. CISL Canopy is therefore pleased to contribute to UNICEF Innovation 30. Showcasing and supporting young entrepreneurs from around the world, this initiative is helping to develop new ideas and innovative ventures with the potential to tackle climate change at scale," says James Cole, Chief Innovation Officer, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Find out more

Young Innovators Tackling Climate Change

About Innovation30: Innovation30 – Young Climate Innovators Shaping the Future aligned with Agenda 2030 for sustainable development is the collaborative effort of a consortium of innovation accelerators nominating and vetting impactful solutions from around the world. They include African Leadership Academy/Anzisha Prize, African Youth Climate Hub, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator, Global Alliance of Universities on Climate, Forest Valley, Ignite, Imperial College London Undaunted, MIT Solve, Mzuzah, Nigerian Climate Innovation Accelerator, Seedstars, The Canopy, The Climate Pre-Accelerator, The Royal Academy of Engineering.

All solutions selected by Innovation30 were ideated or developed by innovators when they were under the age of 30.  This accounts for the growth process and stages typical for creating impactful climate innovation with demonstrated scalability.

About UNICEF: UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, it works for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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Claudia Cannon

Claudia Cannon
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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Email: c.cannon@imperial.ac.uk

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