The SDG Solveathon

Luke Han, our 2019 Competitions Director, recaps the second run of our tertiary competition - this year dubbed the SDG Solveathon.

Following from the success of last year’s “Fix the Future: A Social Hackathon”, we decided to expand the number of SDG’s and organisations involved, in an effort to attract a more diverse audience. With these intentions in mind, the SINZ competitions team established our SDG Solveathon 2019 – with 6 SDG’s and 6 respective organisations. We were proud to have Auckland Council, Ako Mātātupu, Beca, Deloitte, the Treasury and Counties Manukau Health to be involved in our Solveathon. Being such a diverse range of industries and organisations, we really made it a competition for students from all faculties.

As well as inviting more organisations to get involved, we collaborated with the lovely UN Youth Auckland – who seek to inspire Global Citizens among New Zealand youth. Such a collaboration really helped to demonstrate to the participants the practical significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The lovely and passionate team from UN Youth worked together with us and the organisations to develop some complex problems relevant to the companies involved. These problems pushed for action relevant to the respective SDGs as well as encompassing the underlying aim of building a more sustainable future. Teams that participated picked one SDG and due to the depth of the problems, they were mentored by industry professionals from each respective organisation over the two days.

In the first day, we focused on formatting the event innovatively to deliver impact, moving away from a typical case competition to a more collaborative format. The teams worked with the company representatives to understand and ask questions themselves. We started off the day with an amazing and touching keynote from the CEO of the Sustainable Business Network. The teams then headed off to morning workshops on manifesting and measuring impact an organisation makes as well as improving general presentation skills. We then had lovely vegan lunch where the participants and professionals could have casual conversation. Following this, teams from each SDG spent the afternoon with the representatives. Together, they crafted and honed their solutions to the problems they were allocated. This day was held in the newly refurbished East Wing of the Clock Tower, which gave a really cosy feeling. This warm open space really added something special to the event and showcased this new space to more students.

On the second day, the teams presented their solutions and ideas to the relevant companies. They were judged by representatives from the same organisations and many thought-provoking solutions were brought forth. The finalists received prizes from these organisations, from shadowing staff in the ICU to presenting their ideas to the heads of the organisation. The finalists then showcased their solutions to everyone and an overall winner was picked by some of our friendly external judges.

Personally, I was inspired by the opportunity that professionals and students from different backgrounds could work together to think about the future we have ahead of us. It is really evidential that positive difference can be made through collaborative efforts and diverse perspectives. I have learnt that sustainability is not only a scientific issue but can be incorporated in all industries, business decisions, organisation structures and even somewhat in our own lives. The SINZ competitions team hopes that all participants left this event with more encouragement to build a more sustainable future!


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