UN Global Hackathon in Rio de Janeiro nominates project to reduce inequality

by Denise Silveira and Lorenzo Casagrande

In March 10 to 12, Rio de Janeiro hosted one of the Global Hackathon battle fields Connect2Effect organized by UN Influxtrust and the SDG Action Campaign. The event was realized under the premise of bringing entrepreneurs and actors from the digital market together to discuss about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The marathon was held in 9 cities from 9 different countries (Manama, Bali, Chandigarh, Geneva, Lagos, Lisbon, London, New York and Rio de Janeiro) covering 5 continents and discussing solutions for three specific SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goal chosen for Rio de Janeiro and London was the SDG #10 – Reduced Inequalities. Under the latter, the four teams taking part in the Brazilian event had to present concrete proposals of an app or digital platform designed to contribute to this purpose. In order to do so, four collaborative houses from Rio de Janeiro were responsible for establishing the teams. One of the challenges proposed was to create diversified teams with members that belonged to different contexts, contributing to a more participative and inclusive event, and one that still holds up technical skills among the selected members.

The local partners responsible for the Brazilian event were AbeLLHa and COORTE who worked as producers and ensured that, apart from following UN’s guidelines and event structure, also set a strong creative and innovative spirit to the event. Under such, the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) played an important role as communications facilitator between the United Nations and local actors from the social movements, and also providing recommendations and valuable expertise in the field of sustainable development throughout the competition. The Deputy-Director of RIO+ Centre, Layla Saad, that was one of the judges responsible for evaluating the social impact of the projects proposed by each team, explains that “problems stemming from inequality has direct spillovers on the development of an entire nation, and being able to deal with this issue straight with civil society, under a hub of effervescent businesses that we have seen here today (at the Global Hackaton), is part of RIO+ Centre’s mandate and clearly provides us with positive inputs for the discussions about the 2030 Agenda, which is an Agenda that belongs to everyone”.

The winning solution, from Jardim Digital team, presented a platform whose objective is to support de-bureaucracy for cultural and economic integration of refugees. During Gustavo Junqueira’s pitch, the project idealizer, he said that they “have succeeded in engaging, in a collaborative and creative manner, people from different backgrounds around one main objective, to reduce inequality.”

Under the objective of stimulating knowledge and debate on the 2030 Agenda, the Global Hackathon aims to enable the conception and creation of a series of socially-oriented startups, with global replicability and in line with the 17 SDGs. According to Ana Júlia Ghirello, founder of AbeLLha – an ecosystem to support social and collaborative entrepreneurship, and mentor of the participating teams, “Ideathons or Hackathons are way more powerful than the ideas that actually emerge throughout the day. These events have a crucial role of enabling deep reflection about a problem, the social impact related to it and pathways on how to transform these into businesses”.

For the next phase of the competition, the UN Influxtrust will upload the ideas into a crowdfunding platform where the Brazilian proposal will compete with the British proposal, both related to SDG #10 – reduced inequalities, and the winning proposal, will be invited to present the project in the Forum of Science, Technology and Innovation, in New York on 15-17 May. With this, the event meets its objective of creating a big collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial platform around the Sustainable Development Goals.

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