Calling on the Creative Community to Combat Climate Change

The Climate Action Challenge

On Earth Day, What Design Can Do, along with the IKEA Foundation and the Autodesk Foundation announced a new global design competition. The challenge calls on designers and creative entrepreneurs to submit innovative solutions to combat the impacts of climate change.

Climate change is now inevitable. We are already witnessing its harmful effects, with floods, droughts, dying ecosystems, and civil wars caused by constrained food and water resources. This is why our response must now be two-pronged: firstly, limit the increase in temperature as much as possible, and secondly, adapt to a changing climate. The Climate Action Challenge is focused on the latter: adaptation to climate change.


An ambitious and urgent task lies in front of us; if we want to make radical change happen, we need to make climate change urgent and tangible in the hearts and minds of everybody (especially now, with climate change deniers like Donald Trump assuming power). This is exactly where the creative community can step in. Reframing problems, finding opportunities and creating unexpected yet tangible solutions within given limitations, is what designers excel in. Designers are also great communicators and collaborators, used to facing complex situations together.


“The collaboration with IKEA Foundation and Autodesk Foundation is unique”, says WDCD founder Richard van der Laken. “We don’t just reach out to the global creative community to come up with solutions, together we also have real developing power.”

Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO, says: “We believe climate change represents a very significant threat to the future of children living in poor communities —and that innovative design can help their families cope and adapt. We see that the creative community is eager to make their contributions to efforts to tackle climate change. Stories of communities affected by droughts, typhoons, or rising sea levels are implicitly asking creatives: which side are you on? This initiative will help creatives side with the many people, and this is why we’re supporting the What Design Can Do Climate Action Challenge.” “

Climate change is one of the greatest design challenges of our time, and addressing it is essential to the long-term success of society,” said Lynelle Cameron, president & CEO, Autodesk Foundation and vice president of Sustainability, Autodesk. “At Autodesk, we support entrepreneurs, start-ups, and non-profits to create climate change solutions through funding, software, and services. We’re proud to be supporting the What Design Can Do Climate Action Challenge as a way to help more climate innovations get to market and succeed.”

The Climate Action Challenge will officially launch on 23 May at WDCD Live in Amsterdam.

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