The international jury for the No Waste Challenge has been revealed. Participating in this year’s panel are twelve leaders from across the fields of design, climate action and social entrepreneurship. It is their task to review the 85 nominees in the competition, and decide on the winning teams whose projects will be launched into action on 15 July. Ahead of the grand finale, we’ve asked a few judges to share their expectations and advice on what it takes to find—and cultivate—ideas with real and lasting impact.
Just as the nominees approach the issue of waste from many perspectives, so does the No Waste Challenge jury. Rajeev Goyal offers unique insight as a previous winner of the WDCD Climate Action Challenge in 2018. He took home the prize with his ambitious KTK-BELT project, which seeks to safeguard Nepal’s forests through botanical education, green livelihoods, and community-based conservation.
Looking at the projects on the shortlist, he is most excited about the solutions that dare to rethink entire value systems. “I’m searching for projects that seek to redefine familiar terms such as waste or even design itself. An idea may be feasible and scalable, and extremely well designed, but does it create enough impact and move the needle on a global scale? That is the ultimate lynchpin of this challenge, and what it will take to win.”
What are his hopes for the finalists beyond the competition? “I would advise all participants to study the other projects and learn from them. Find the common themes and connect with people from the competition that inspire you. This might not be your last project or creation. Be willing to evolve and rethink your idea or product entirely. Ask yourself if there is a better way,” said Rajeev. It’s this spirit of curiosity and commitment that makes him most optimistic about the future. “To my mind, the 1,400+ submissions, in their totality—encompassing a shared global desire to eliminate harmful waste and heal the earth—represent the collective winner.”
Rajeev Goyal presenting his Climate Action Challenge winning project at WDCD Live in Amsterdam.
Joining Rajeev on the panel is Silvana Bahia, a Brazilian educator and activist who is Executive Co-Director at Olabi, an organisation that works to increase gender and racial diversity in the innovation sector. For her, waste is a problem with a clear social dimension — one which demands an inclusive and intersectional approach. “I’m hoping to see how the projects address solutions that can also impact social differences, and give equal access to all the groups in society,” she shared. “I’m also interested in seeing solutions that integrate technology and design and how this combination can be a powerful tool to sort out real life problems.”
Silvana Bahia also helps lead PretaLab (BlackWomanLab), a collective that mobilises Afro-Brazilian women to engage with technology.
Collaboration is also at the centre of Silvana’s advice for creative entrepreneurs looking to take their ideas to the next level. “Stay open to ideas from people with different backgrounds. Because when you bring together a diversity of perspectives to look at your product, the bigger the chance is that you’ll develop a solution that has more impact in people’s lives,” she explained. “This becomes possible because people from different backgrounds will bring you different problems that sometimes are out of your horizon… By taking these perspectives into consideration, your solution will become more accessible to all.”
Also bringing his distinct vision to the table is Porfirio Gutierrez, a textile designer, artist and advocate whose work draws on the cultural traditions of his native Oaxaca, Mexico. For him, sustainability is a deeply spiritual practice, one that benefits from a holistic view of the world and of all things in it. “It is important to me that the indigenous perspective on this subject is shared,” he said of his decision to participate in the jury. “I’m interested in understanding the level of commitment each nominee has to their project, and discovering their level of sensibility to mother nature… My wish has always been for modern society to learn to respect nature and to learn to live in harmony with it.”
Porfirio Gutierrez with traditional Zapotec materials and textiles.
Other names on the jury include architect Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), design researcher Neha Singh, partner of Quicksand (India), and Liz McKeon, Climate Action lead at IKEA Foundation (Netherlands). In addition to their years of professional experience, this year’s jury also carry close connections to the six partner cities of the No Waste Challenge. Together, they will carefully evaluate the feasibility, scalability and impact of each and every No Waste Challenge nominee.
Next to identifying the most promising projects, their critical feedback will strengthen all runner-up projects, with the goal of motivating more creative thinkers and doers to engage further with this urgent global issue. As Silvana summed up neatly: “Design is a great stimulator of new paths in the search of solutions.” Let’s use it well.