The Climate Solutions Lab cohort 2022 closed and held a Demo Day. Twelve young professionals from Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Niger, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia finalized their participation in the Climate Solutions Lab. They received the valuable support of 12 mentors, as well as seed funding and training. Results were presented in a Demo Day in March 2023.

Impulsouth is an alliance of organizations working collaboratively to increase knowledge and capacities on climate action in developing countries. It focuses its action in six countries – Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Madagascar, Niger, Uganda and Zambia and has south-south cooperation as one of its principles.

The purpose of Climate Solutions (CS) Lab is to deliver an incubation process where young leaders can experiment with innovation methodologies and learn from their mistakes while implementing solutions related to climate change. Experimentation is about embracing ambiguity that comes with an unstructured journey of innovating. The CS Lab was designed to help participants through customer discovery, project innovation, solution implementation, and business model optimization. Each youth innovator was assigned a mentor to provide guidance, networking and support to their solution.

The Lab combines research and transformative education pedagogies to reach experimentation and innovation with local impact that can inspire youth leaders worldwide. Through these capacity building methodologies and learning through error and by doing, the goal is to address the climate crisis and to help the participants to exchange knowledge, enhancing a south-south cooperation as a way forward to build climate change initiatives.

The CS Lab also provides seed funds for the young innovators to support design experiments and related aspects in order to advance with their solutions, bringing ideas to practice. This financial support could be used to facilitate experimentation, either for the creation of a website, to launch a pilot, or even to personal needs so the participant could focus on the CSLab – e.g. mothers that needed daycare to keep up with the meetings.

“For Impulsouth, it is an opportunity to bring the youth from the Global South on board on climate action, giving them the opportunity to explore ways to face the climate change, and to enhance the exchanges between regions, as we understand the CSLab as a space to put south-south cooperation in practice. Besides, it is the first project at Avina Foundation working in Africa, what brings a whole new perspective to the organization itself and also on how can we work together with regions that face similar problems”, indicated Nathalia Rezende, Assistant project coordinator and South-South cooperation specialist.

Innovation and entrepreneurialism as a methodology

The arena and ambition of the Impulsouth project is based on South-South cooperation, in the understanding that this also allows reducing gaps in the countries in a contextualized way to our ways of life.

In this way, gathering young people from different countries with different realities, territorialized and concrete problems, can be a source of peer learning and inspiration for other young people.

For Gaston Kremer, Solutions Lab co-coordinator, bringing together a young woman from the Dominican Republic who works with resilience and adaptation indicators for municipalities with a public official in Uganda who wants to work with carbon credits for smallholder farmers, can generate opportunities for exchange of knowledge, experiences and co-creation through the Global South.

“We wanted to create a space in which young leaders from a diverse background could, regardless if they are in a startup or in government or in Civil Society, experiment with innovation methodologies and started to think in this mindset of experimentation and learning through error. So what we did was to build a path, so they could test their ideas. Their mentors are important allies to qualify and expand networks, so they can keep moving forward with those Solutions”, indicated the Solutions Lab coordinator.

In this way, through a series of innovative content, resources and networking opportunities, youth innovators from the Global South were able to put their ideas into practice. Through their leadership and capacity building, the participating youth innovators will be able to transfer their knowledge to their local communities.

Twelve young climate leaders, twelve local solutions to climate change

The Solutions Lab participants presented, in brief, their climate solution projects.

The richness in terms of the variety of approaches, objectives and groups reached was remarkable. The enthusiasm with which they presented their progress in the solutions, as well as the relevant proposals in all cases, demonstrate the innovative potential and leadership of these young people.

For Dr Phumlani Nkontwana, Solutions Lab coordinator, the highlight and learning from this global intervention was setting up a global platform from which learning through mistakes and others was made possible through a group of individuals behind the initiative with big hearts and vision for our world.

“When unwavering passion meets global mission, you get an ambitious multi-country Climate Change Solution Lab of this pioneering nature. We freed ourselves from the constraints of limited resources and focused on creating a space where youth can feel they do not only have a say in climate change solutions but more importantly also the capacities and confidence that come from the attitudes, abilities and experience gained from a Solutions Lab we put together”, reflected Dr. Nkontwana.

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