A Challenge Too Big for Governments and NGOs Alone

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Why this challenge?

In 2015, the UNHCR revealed that the number of global forced displaced people topped nearly 60 million for the first time since World War II. Tens of thousands of newly arrived  refugees wandering across Europe, moving from one border opening to the next, triggered numerous volunteer efforts and citizen initiatives aimed at providing immediate relief.

Yet caught between showing solidarity and acknowledging public anti-immigrant sentiments, the European Union and individual countries are struggling to find answers to the refugee crisis.
These problems are clearly too complex for one institution alone to address. Bold and innovative ideas are needed for enduring solutions. What can designers and other creatives do to help both refugees and cities to adapt to the new reality?
  This is the central question behind the What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge, for which we are calling on the global creative community to make a difference. With this initiative we hope to engage creatives from all disciplines and foster collaboration with refugees, NGOs, national and municipal authorities to identify needs, come up with responses, and test solutions, which could take the form of products, services, and/or technologies.

We looked for game-changing yet feasible ideas which might be products, communication campaigns, services and/or technologies. Entries may be existing initiatives or propose entirely new concepts. The criteria are: creativity/originality, relevance, feasibility, scalability and potential impact. View the submitted proposals on our challenge platform at refugeechallenge.unhcrideas.org
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European migration crisis 2015
Top countries of reception
In asylum applicants per 10,000 inhabitants
Source: Eurostat dataset
  European migration crisis 2015
Top countries of origin
Source: Eurostat dataset
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The Nominate Phase

After a successful feedback and refinement phase, the final count for the challenge was a staggering 630 entries. In the Nominate Phase, a selection committee of over 30 experts from both the creative field as well as the humanitarian sector, reviewed and rated every submission according to the criteria of: innovation, relevance, scalability, sustainability, feasibility, and potential impact. On 17 June, a live session was held in Amsterdam to establish a shortlist of 25 entries. On 1 July, during What Design Can Do Live Amsterdam, the 5 winning projects were announced on stage by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders.  Read up on the next stage of the process here, or find out more about the refugee journey & the challenge briefing here.

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Top Photo: ©UNHCR  / Achilleas Zavallis