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Hack the Planet competition seeks solutions to the world’s most pressing ocean challenges

19 April 2021

To celebrate Earth Day on 22 April, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Satellite Applications Catapult are launching the first-ever Hack the Planet competition, in search of innovative, impactful and scalable ideas that will tackle the threats facing communities around the world, linked to ocean degradation and the climate crisis.

Virtual ideas competition

The virtual ideas competition will advance outstanding home-grown solutions from across 54 Commonwealth countries, targeting some of the world’s most pressing ocean-related challenges, such as eliminating plastic pollution, accelerating sustainable energy uptake, climate change, developing sustainable ‘blue’ approaches for the ocean economy and protecting nature in marine areas.

With £10,000 in prize money to be won, the competition will encourage entrants to utilise and explore the information and connectivity available from satellites as part of their ideas.

Announcing the initiative, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“The Commonwealth is an extremely diverse group of 54 countries, including some of the smallest and most vulnerable in the world, that have made a shared commitment under the Commonwealth Blue Charter to work together to tackle ocean-related challenges.

“I am therefore encouraged by the sheer range of possibilities this competition will open up to identify new and improved ideas on how to address ocean sustainability. We look forward to receiving ideas from individuals, teams, and organisations from across our regions, which we could then support and amplify globally.”

Lucy Edge, Chief Operating Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult added:

“We are very excited to launch Hack the Planet today and look forward to the innovative ideas we will see from around the world. Satellites provide a unique view of our planet Earth – they are vital for meaningful monitoring and mitigation of the effects of climate change and will be an important part of any solution looking at the world’s oceans.

“It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity for people around the Commonwealth to come together and develop innovative ideas into world-changing concepts that take significant and measurable steps towards solving some of the world’s biggest ocean challenges.”

Competition details

The deadline for online submissions is 31st May 2021. The theme of the competition is closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 14 (ocean), 13 (climate) and 7 (energy). 

Specific examples of issues that could be addressed include those covered by the Commonwealth Blue Charter: marine plastic pollution, coral reef protection and restoration, mangrove ecosystems and livelihoods, marine protected areas, ocean acidification, ocean and climate change, ocean observations, sustainable aquaculture and sustainable coastal fisheries.

In the second phase of the competition, 30 shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in a knowledge exchange programme where they will learn about satellite technologies and elements of design thinking that could support their ideas, and hone these into robust, compelling pitches. The training and support provided during the knowledge exchange programme will be highly valuable and will support participants to improve their ideas with the help of a wide variety of industry experts.

Six finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas live in front of a panel of judges. The winner of the competition will receive £10,000 and the announcement of the results will take place at a final showcase event in October 2021.

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