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Crafting solutions to climate change

Each year, the Global Children’s Designathon draws on the imaginations of children to consider solutions they think could resolve some of the biggest challenges facing our world amid climate change.

© WWF South Africa
The WWF Braamfontein office was abuzz with excitement for climate action for the Global Children's Designathon.

On a sunny Saturday in November, 32 children between the ages of 8 and 12 fill the WWF office in Braamfontein in anticipation of the Global Children’s Designathon 2019. For most of the children, this is their first interaction with issues around climate change and related challenges such as water scarcity, food insecurity and land degradation. All of these could have an impact on their future.

The Designathon gives kids the opportunity to apply their limitless creativity to considering solutions to some of the world’s biggest environmental issues in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s theme is Food and Climate Action.

During the one-day event, over 1 200 children from 40 cities around the world come together to work in parallel and design and develop innovative concepts and build prototypes. They present their ideas to each other and, at the end of the day, to a panel of experts and a public audience.

Full steam ahead

When they arrive, WWF’s Innocentia Modau does the introductions and the hum of chatter grows louder as everyone warms up.

© WWF South Africa
The Designathon prioritises collaboration and partnerships which is something that came naturally to the kids.
​To the heart of it

Our little climate champions are divided into small groups and asked to come up with ideas and sketch their initial plans under the watchful eye and guidance of adults from WWF, Designathon Worx and Barweshi Consulting. With the focus on food, many of the ideas touch on equal distribution and fair practices that would address food insecurity across the world.

© WWF South Africa
Isabel Brenner from Designathon Worx in the Netherlands made the trip to South Africa to lend some expert guidance to the teams.
© WWF South Africa
Children race to put their dreams to paper, sketching the inventions that they would soon be building from a collection of recyclable materials.
© WWF South Africa
Phuti Manguba from Barweshi Consulting has a knack for keeping the teams on point and on time.
Getting crafty

With their inventions planned, it is time to get cracking on building our machines. Using old cereal boxes, pieces of old plastic and an array of other recyclable bits, the teams leap into action.

© WWF South Africa
WWF’s Melisha Nagiah helps children to add an electronic component to their creations - something that piques their interest and holds their attention.
© WWF South Africa
With their imaginations as the only limit, the creations become incredibly detailed.
Presentations begin

By the end of the day, they are ready to present their solutions to parents and judges.

© WWF South Africa
Some were a bit shy in the face of a crowd.
© WWF South Africa
While others relished the attention, becoming animated when describing their ideas.

Experiences like the Global Children’s Designathon are an important part in generating awareness about climate change. Creating opportunities for children to be included in the designing of solutions for their future, they are encouraged to question the world around them and consider behaviours that would benefit themselves, other people and their environment.

Melissa du Preez Photo
Melissa du Preez, Communications Officer

Melissa is all about bringing good lifestyle habits that are good For Nature. For You.

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