2 days ActJust Int. Policy Hackathon by Südwind

On February 19th and 20th, 2023, 120 individuals from seven countries came together at the ActJust Int. Policy Hackathon, organized by Südwind, at the Uno City in Vienna. Witnessing so many passionate young individuals working together on the urgent issue of climate justice was truly inspiring. Throughout the course of two days, 14 teams worked diligently to tackle challenges in mobility, energy, food, migration, and climate education, with the aim of developing sustainable solutions in collaboration.

The first day of the Hackathon

The first day started with energising exercises to kick off the event. In addition to team building and getting to know each other, the focus was on developing the content of the solution idea. This included the following points:

  • Challenge Mapping: Detailed analysis of the challenge, develop the view/perspective of those affected, research existing studies/numbers/data/facts.
  • Vision: develop a scenario of what a future could look like in which the challenge no longer exists.
  • Solution approach: Decide on a specific solution approach.
  • Beneficiaries: Take a closer look at the beneficiaries of the solution – their needs, what makes them tick, what they need and who they are.
  • Stakeholders: Which people/organizations are needed to implement the solution? How can those entities be brought on board that may be hindering the solution approach?
  • Context: research similar existing solutions; What works effectively and what doesn’t work as effectively.?
  • Key partners: Who are the possible key partners to develop and implement the solution? What type of coordination is required?
  • Next steps: What specific actions must be taken to implement the solution, and how will the key partners be engaged?
  • Possible challenges: detailed description of possible risks and barriers.
  • Goals: formulate impact-oriented short-, medium- and long-term goals.
  • Formulate mission statement

The second day of the Hackathon

During the second and final day, the teams dedicated their time to preparing their pitch, with a focus on refining the pitch’s structure, content, and presentation.

This process was supported by mentors from various fields who provided their expertise to assist the teams with brainstorming and implementing their pitch ideas.

On the afternoon of the second day, the 14 teams presented their pitches to the jury. A total of six policy makers from various countries were present as jury members, including Thomas Waitz who represented Austria. Waitz is a Member of the European Parliament, Co-Chair of the European Green Party, and an organic farmer, forester, and beekeeper from southern Styria. He advocates for small-scale and sustainable agriculture, improved animal welfare, climate and environmental protection, and a more environmental-friendly EU.

The team from Italy, who presented a solution to the Climate Education Challenge, emerged as the winner.

Numerous students and aspiring change-makers do not acquire the necessary skills in environmental education to influence and act on society. Therefore, the Italian team developed a new approach to reach headmasters, teachers, trainers, students, and climate activists:

  • Focus on the School Sustainable Development Goals,
  • 5-day annual festivals in several European cities with peer educator trainings and focus on the exchange of good practice solutions.
  • Raising awareness in a playful way via learning platforms, which should lead to more commitment in the community and networking.
  • Challenges are formulated along with a call for action
  • Sharing of solutions and cooperation
  • Learning material will be sent to schools during the year.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an event format where groups of individuals come together to develop ideas or improve upon existing approaches. These events can cover a wide range of topics and take place either online or in-person. The primary goal is to bring people together to develop innovative solutions to pre-defined challenges within a limited timeframe.

Why organizing a hackathon?

Compared to conventional meetings, a hackathon is an exciting format in which many people are actively involved and develop solutions in a playful way. Participants are inspired to think creatively. By bringing together people with different backgrounds and skills, collaboration among each other is encouraged to ultimately generate an innovative idea. In summary, the hackathon format offers participants the opportunity to acquire new skills, network with like-minded people and showcase their abilities.