The Ideas for Action (I4A) initiative is a youth annual competition on financing and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is jointly organized by the World Bank Group and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It provides students and young professionals from around the world with a unique opportunity to help shape the international development agenda and to take an active role in changing the world. It also provides to the winners access to leading professionals in the global development field and the private sector.
The three winning, plus two runners-up, ideas of 2018 were:
(i) MINO Microbubble Technology from Indonesia: a technology that increases dissolved oxygen in water to improve fish farm yields.
Two-thirds of the people in Asia are malnourished because the region’s food supply has not been able to keep up with the soaring food demand caused by the region’s rapid population growth. Aquaculture is an important source of livelihood for the rural poor that generates income through the direct sale of products. MINO Microbubble Technology can multiply the yield without having to open more areas for extra ponds. Hence, the region can achieve the UN SDGs to end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable water use that is environmentally friendly.
(ii) Starlight from Rwanda: a women-led business model to improve sustainable access to energy.
Rwanda’s population has more than doubled over the past decade. This population growth means that more people will need access to affordable energy. Team Starlight started a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiative in high schools to encourage students to explore circuitry and to develop technical skills, with the hope to empower Rwanda’s youth (and especially young women) to become a part of the solution. Team Starlight also came up with the solution of providing locally made solar lanterns with the aim of making solar products affordable and make it easy for the rural population to switch from kerosene to solar power. The positive effects go beyond providing a sustainable form of light.
(iii) Amal from the United States: a new legal software program and digital platform that allows women in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries to understand their rights in their country of residence and to complete the paperwork required to secure access to these rights.
For women in MENA, laws on paper often do not reflect their reality, making it crucial for mechanisms for legal implementation to be in place to improve livelihoods. Amal provides a step in easing these issues by offering a central platform to explain women’s rights in each country, to streamline the steps and requirements for acquiring basic registrations and rights, and to complete and submit required documentation with confidence and ease. Securing women’s rights provides women the opportunity to make the choices that are best for them, their families, and their communities.
(iv) Al-Derb Platform: a way for individual and group funding to help young people obtain grants for high-quality online education and training courses offered by universities and training centers.
The difficulty of obtaining a good education and the low skill level that young people in the Arab world have are major obstacles to entering the job market and to earning an income than can provide a decent standard of living. Through this platform, thousands of Arab young people will have the opportunity to continue their education and training to build their skills. On the basis of current capabilities, the target is to provide 500 grants a year, but this number could increase if we are able to convince other donors to help a larger number of young people.
(v) Pennepidemic: ensuring food safety in China and beyond through Blockchain Technology.
As the world becomes more interconnected, the global food supply chain is exposed to a greater number of possible threats. A digital ledger system known as Blockchain technology is the most effective solution in tackling the issues of food safety and food fraud. The transparency and traceability of Blockchain technology connects all parties (producers, retailers, consumers) in the Blockchain network and ensures an improved food supply chain. In addition, the implementation of Blockchain technology will have positive ripple effects on growth and development.