The 2024 SDG Olympiad

A global competition that empowers students around the world to tackle environmental and health challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

 What is the SDG Olympiad? Olympiads are competitions that help young people boost their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a particular field. There are many in traditional fields like mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The SDG Olympiad is a new variant, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on team-based projects and challenge-based innovation. The SDG Olympiad is not just a competition: it aims to have youth-driven social and environmental impact. The SDG Olympiad was officially launched at the Geneva Trialogue on 31 May 2024.

Participants of the 2023 SDG Summer School in Geneva, one of five SDG Summer Schools that took place on three continents.

Find an SDG Summer School near you:

University of Geneva (coordinator)

Asian Institute of Technology (Bangkok)

Imperial College London

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Politecnico di Milano

Rice University in Houston

Tsinghua University (Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School)

United States International University (Nairobi)

Université Paris Cité

University of Copenhagen

University of Lagos

 

How did the SDG Olympiad begin? The SDG Olympiad is inspired by the SDG Summer Schools organized by the SDG Solution Space at the University of Geneva since 2016. Since 2019, these SDG Summer Schools have been run in collaboration with the Learning Planet Institute at Université Paris Cité. In 2023, the SDG Solution Space coordinated an SDG Olympiad Pilot Program at five universities in Bangkok, Geneva, Lagos, Nairobi and Paris, with the support of UNICEF, the Global Fund and the 4EU+ Alliance, amongst others. Each University held its own SDG Summer School, addressing some of the most pressing sustainability issues in their region. The impressive results of the Pilot Program have been documented by the students themselves in an SDGZine.

What kind of impact will the SDG Olympiad have? One of the student-led projects from the SDG Olympiad Pilot Program, DonateWater, was part of an SDG Summer School at the University of Lagos in 2023. The project has since deployed a series of citizen science challenges across Nigeria to gather nearly 5000 surveys about water resources. This project has been run in collaboration with the UNICEF Yoma youth initiative. Discussions are ongoing with UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program to scale up DonateWater to provide much-needed data relevant to SDG Indicator 6.1.1 that measures the proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services. UNICEF WASH wants to obtain such data for Northern Nigeria and across the broader Sahel region, where the impact of climate change on desertification is acute. The DonateWater student team was recently invited to present their results at a keynote speech during the first Citizen Science Africa Association Conference in Nairobi. This is the kind of impact that the SDG Olympiad aims to have, for the students involved, for communities in their countries, and for the UN SDGs.

The University of Lagos SDG Summer School Team comprised ten students: eight undergraduates, one M.Sc. and PhD student each, with one faculty member supporting them. They worked on three projects, DonateWater, WashMonitor and CoFaWo.

A sensitization session led by SDG Summer School students at the Achievers’ Community School, Ebute Ilaje, an informal settlement in Lagos, to introduce citizen science concepts and related tools and platforms to students. The goal was to recruit volunteers for data collection in projects like DonateWater.

How does the SDG Olympiad work in practice? The SDG Olympiad is based on an innovation cycle developed as part of the EU Crowd4SDG project. It involves four phases, as shown in the figure. While the SDG Olympiad is currently coordinated by the SDG Solution Space in Geneva, it involves a growing number of partner universities worldwide and challenge-givers from International Organizations and NGOs in Geneva and around the globe. A co-creation process for the SDG Olympiad was initiated in July 2023 involving a range of stakeholders, and an SDG Olympiad Working Group was established in February 2024 to represent those universities that will organize SDG Summer Schools or similar events in 2024. The teams producing the best prototypes during these events will be invited to Paris on 26  September for an SDG Olympiad Award Ceremony at the Learning Planet Institute, shortly after the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympic Games. The most promising project will receive support to take its prototype all the way to practical deployment, as DonateWater did in 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I join the SDG Olympiad as a student? Check out the map of confirmed host universities above, which will be regularly updated. Contact a University in your country or region to see how you can qualify to join their event.

How can I join the SDG Olympiad as a host University? In 2024, the goal is for Universities on at least five continents to participate in the SDG Olympiad, with a target of 10-12 Universities hosting SDG Summer Schools or other relevant events. If you are a University interested to host an SDG Summer School, contact us.

How can I join the SDG Olympiad as a Challenge Giver? International Organizations, NGOs and private companies with SDG-related challenges are invited to pitch their challenges to us. Challenge Givers are expected to provide mentorship to student teams that tackle the challenge, as well as sponsor the SDG Olympiad in cash or in kind. For more information, contact us

What criteria will be used to select projects and award prizes for the SDG Olympiad? At each stage of the Olympiad, an independent jury will select student teams and their projects for prizes and awards, including selecting one to go to the next stage of the competition. More detailed criteria for the prizes will be announced at the SDG Olympiad Launch Event on 31 May 2024 and shared on this web page subsequently.

What topics are tackled in the SDG Olympiad? The SDGs are a very broad theme. Each participating University will focus on topics of particular interest in their region. For example, the University of Geneva will be focusing on Planetary Health, and more specifically on the impact of climate change on the health of ecosystems and human beings.

Strategic Partners

Host Universities

Challenge Givers

Event Sponsors