Rising to the challenge

- February 15, 2017

Contestants from the semi-finals of the Dal World's Challenge Challenge. (Sofia Ortega Arrieta photo)
Contestants from the semi-finals of the Dal World's Challenge Challenge. (Sofia Ortega Arrieta photo)

Climate change has given rise to many new challenges around the globe, but some regions are seeing the immediate impacts more than others.

Communities across West Africa, for instance, have found themselves under growing pressure as the threats of drought, flooding and erosion have increased along with temperatures.

Now, a new 22-person global network called The Climate Express (TCE), co-founded by three Dal Sustainability students and other activists around the world, is aiming to help connect these climate-vulnerable communities with the expertise and resources they need to adapt.

Caitlin Grady, Jasveen Brar, and Caroline Merner will help launch a pilot TCE project later this year in rural Ghana. “Our goal is to start with one country, Ghana, and connect their citizens with agricultural experts,” says Grady.

Grady’s team was one of six teams to take part in a World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) semi-finals event at Dal in January. First launched at Western University in 2013, the WCC encourages students from different faculties and programs to put their heads together in teams of three to develop solutions to some of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the globe today.

Western decided to expand WCC to Dal and several other schools across the globe this year in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“It’s the first year that the Challenge is being held outside of Western, and, of course, we leapt at the opportunity to participate,” says Fiona Black, Dal’s associate vice-president academic and host of the Dal semi-finals.

Creating unique solutions

Students taking part in WCC are invited to tackle one of the 17 goals laid out in the 2015 United Nations-led global goals for sustainable development, which range from eliminating hunger and poverty to spreading affordable and clean energy. (http://www.globalgoals.org/)

“Students have the opportunity to present potentially unique and feasible solutions to world problems,” says Dr. Black.

About 200 members of the Dal community came out to the semi-finals last month to hear five-minute presentation from each of the six Dalhousie teams, three of which were chosen to move on to the final round of presentations being held this Thursday.

The Grady, Brar and Merner team secured a spot in the finals, as did Keisha Jefferies, Nadine Ezzeddine and Yue Yuan, who presented their idea of an educational program in Tanzania on the benefits of breastfeeding.

The third team — and the winner of the Audience Choice Award at the semi-finals — consists of Alicia Roy, Danielle Skuy and Robyn Follet. They tackled gender and economic inequality with their idea for 3D-printed prosthetic limb production in developing countries.

Each member of the top team chosen this week will receive $1,000 and a funded trip to London, Ontario, in May to compete against students from 10 universities from across North America, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands and Hong Kong for a shot at a $45,000 prize pool intended to further develop their proposed solution.

Judges at this week’s finals are Richard Florizone, Dal president; Arig al Shaibah, viceprovost student affairs; and Kathleen Reid, president of the Dalhousie Student Union.

For updates on the World’s Challenge Challenge, visit the DalVision website.


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