Community News

Press Release: Addressing Climate Change by Harnessing the Power of Youth


Addressing Climate Change by Harnessing the Power of Youth

Former Prime Minister of Norway and President of Ireland collaborate with MIT’s Climate CoLab to support youth’s high-impact action on climate change.

Download the full press release

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The most recent IPCC report and National Climate Assessment makes clear that climate change is happening now and will cause catastrophic disruptions for people living today.  This urgency of action has spurred an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, The Elders, to advocate for youth leadership on climate change. To strengthen this initiative, two Elders, Former prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, are joining hands with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab.

The Climate CoLab, an online platform that harnesses the power of crowdsourcing through contests that address climate change, is running a contest on youth climate leadership with The Elders and an international, student-led climate change think-and-do-tank called CliMates.


“We cannot wait another generation,” says Gro Brundtland, Former prime minister of Norway
“We hope this contest will inspire young people… to recognize — and seize — their power in making real, high-impact change,” says Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland.

The contest seeks innovative and actionable ideas that empower young people to influence climate change decision-making and action.

“We cannot wait another generation,” says Gro Brundtland. As the first woman prime minister of Norway, Gro Brundtland led a UN-commissioned report known today as the first major call to action for countries to pursue sustainable development: Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland report).

“Young people are the leaders of today, not tomorrow,” Gro Brundtland continues. “This current generation of leaders must do whatever it can to listen to young people on these issues which have such strong consequences for their future.”

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland who also served as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, agrees, “We need the urgent drive and vision of young people from all over the world to help us build the political momentum for the crucial changes which must be made. This can and should be done as soon as possible.”

“We hope this contest will inspire young people around the world to recognize — and seize — their power in making real, high-impact change,” she continues.  “And we also hope it inspires those in positions of power to accelerate climate efforts, and make young people part of that decision-making.”

The contest is open to anyone in the world, regardless of age, nationality, or political viewpoint.  Young people are especially encouraged to participate.*  Entries are due July 31, 2014, and will be judged on novelty, impact, feasibility and presentation.

Winners will:

  • Be eligible for a $10,000 Grand Prize;
  • Have their project highlighted on The Elders website;
  • Receive a personalized letter from Mary Robinson and Gro Brundtland;
  • Showcase their proposals at a conference held at MIT; and
  • Receive support from CliMates to implement their proposals.


Professor Thomas Malone, Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, and Principal Investigator for the Climate CoLab, says, “Examples like Wikipedia and Linux have demonstrated that Internet-enabled crowds can produce powerful results.  Through this contest, and all our contests, we hope the Climate CoLab will help to develop, and gain support for, climate change plans that are better than any that would have otherwise been developed.”

* Please note that this contest is void where prohibited by law. It is your responsibility to check with your local laws to make sure that this contest does not violate any applicable law or ordinance, and to make sure that you are eligible to participate.  Those under 18 years of age will need their parent or legal guardian to register on the Climate CoLab website and submit their proposal on their behalf.

Contest on youth and climate change:
The Elders:
Climate CoLab:
All Climate CoLab contests:

Victoria Ekstrom (MIT Energy Initiative) vekstrom  [at]  mit  [dot]  edu 617 253 3411
Laur Fisher (MIT Climate CoLab) lfi  [at]  mit  [dot]  edu 617 253 3566
Elliott Fox (The Elders)  [at]  theelders  [dot]  org +44 7795 693903