Design-thinking our way out of the climate crisis, or why 2.5 billion kids may hold the key to a sustainable future.
Nine months ago, design thinking powerhouse IDEO issued a challenge to expand the conversation about climate change, shifting it away from what we’d have to give up and towards what we could create.
Living Climate Change aimed to provide a platform for what IDEO rightfully calls “the biggest design challenge of our time,” inviting design thinkers of all stripes to imagine what life could be like in 20 or 30 years, considering all aspects of being — lifestyle, policy, economy, behavior, and everything in between.
This month, IDEO announced the winners of the video challenge, which invited people to capture their vision of a future shaped by climate change and to imagine a better way of reducing carbon emissions. A jury of A-list design and climate change thinkers and doers — including UNESCO director Christine Alfsen, Design Council chief design officer Mat Hunter, Core77 editor Allan Chochinov, BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin, IDEO founder David Kelly, National Design Museum director Bill Moggridge, and filmmaker Gary Hustwit of Helvetica and Objectified fame — selected the winners, each of whom received $3,000 in addition to what we think is the bigger prize: A full-immersion half-day workshop at IDEO.
The winner of the under-18 category is particularly delightful — 12-year-old Alec from New Jersey crowdsourced ideas for reducing carbon emissions from some of the world’s 2.5 billion kids, offering a surprisingly rich intersection of simplicity and brilliance.
The winner of the 18-and-over category places a shift to sustainable food at the center of solving the climate crisis, envisioning a flourishing of local urban farms and the implementation of a local nutrient retrieval system, closing the nutrition cycle — in order to buy food from your local urban farm, you’d have to bring in the same amount of nutrients, in the form of compost, as what you plan to take away. A meat credit-system helps curb one of the biggest edible contributors to carbon emissions.
You can see all submissions on the Living Climate Change Vimeo page. While the challenge may live in the world of hypothetical ideas rather than actionable change, it offers a valuable exercise in thinking about climate change as a design problem — and, cliche as it may be, a solution does always begins with an innovative idea.