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SDGs_Trees.jfifIn response to the rapid acceleration of biodiversity loss and the growing impacts of climate change, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be launched on World Environment Day 2021 (5 June 2021). Led by FAO and UNEP, this decadal effort aims to catalyse a global #GenerationRestoration movement to conserve and restore ecosystems worldwide.

The #GenerationRestoration Youth Challenge is a global call for youth-led solutions to conserve and restore ecosystems. In alignment with the UN Decade, the Challenge covers conservation and restoration of all types of intact and degraded terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, peat, etc.

The Challenge calls for impactful and inspiring solutions by ecopreneurs and young change-makers, taking action in at least one of the following focus areas:

  • Successful Examples of Ecopreneurship: successful ecopreneurship start-ups, i.e. start-ups that have ecosystem conservation and restoration at the core of their business model and demonstrate how nature restoration and regeneration can go hand in hand with socio-economic benefits
  • Capacity-building for Youth: initiatives, programmes and organisations that are championing inter-disciplinary and inclusive capacity building for ecosystem conservation and restoration, as well as the development of ecopreneurship skills and knowledge, with a focus on capacity-building for youth and young professionals.
  • Advocacy, Inspiration, and Engagement: innovative campaigns, projects and organisations that inspire, build awareness and engage youth and individuals around the world for ecosystem restoration.

We are accepting submissions from 16 April 2021 – 15 June 2021.

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Innovative and ecopreneurial solutions from around the world must fall within the scope laid out below, including general scope, focus areas and operating model.

1. General Scope: Solutions that are for and led by youth

Successful solutions entail an important component of youth leadership and youth engagement. This includes solutions that are initiated, developed and led by young ecopreneurs or solutions in which youth constituencies are among the main beneficiaries of the solution. The Challenge also encourages innovative inter-generational leadership and projects with strong ties to local communities, their traditions and knowledge, and are as science-based.

2. Focus Areas

Eligible solutions must fit the general scope noted above and address at least one of the following focus areas: 

  • Successful Examples of Ecopreneurship: This includes start-ups, social enterprises and ecopreneurial businesses that have ecosystem conservation and restoration at their core and demonstrate positive environmental impacts alongside social and economic benefits. This includes solutions that show how ecopreneurship can transform established value chains and build new value chains across industry sectors, which are based on ecosystem restoration (e.g. various agroforestry- and regenerative-agriculture based consumer goods, innovative forest-based products for clothing, manufacturing, architecture and construction, etc.). In addition, the Challenge seeks solutions that help create jobs and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
  • Capacity-Building for Youth: This includes solutions that help enable and empower the #GenerationRestoration movement by fostering the development of the required skills, knowledge and capacity among youth and young professionals interested in taking action to restore and conserve the planet’s ecosystems. The Challenge seeks solutions that break down educational and capacity-building silos and are designed for inclusivity and building bridges across disciplines, traditional & indigenous communities, geographies and age groups.
  • Advocacy, Inspiration and Engagement: This includes initiatives, campaigns and projects that inspire, engage and build awareness among youth and the general public around the opportunities and urgency to take action for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems as part of the societal and economic transformations needed to address biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. The Challenge seeks solutions from across sectors, including the world of arts, music and culture, and traditional and social media that target the general public, employees, consumers, youth and other constituencies.

3. Operating Model

Successful solutions may be at varying stages of their development, funding and establishment. Community-based initiatives, local projects, start-ups and social enterprises are welcome to apply. However, each submission should have the potential for growth and a vision for achieving long-term financial viability and sustainability. We are looking for projects by outstanding youth ecopreneurs and youth change-makers from across the world.

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Submissions will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. Environmental impact: includes the project’s direct impact (where applicable) on conservation, landscape restoration and tree cover, biodiversity conservation and restoration, soil quality, water tables and carbon sequestration. In case the project corresponds to focus areas 2 and 3, at a minimum, it must lay out the theory of change for the indirect impact its activities are expected to have on ecosystem conservation and restoration.
  2. Socio-economic impact: includes the project’s impact on job creation and local livelihoods, awareness-raising and behavioural change, as well as the inclusion of local communities and stakeholders in the use of traditional knowledge, leadership, decision-making and benefit-sharing (with a particular focus on women).
  3. Youth leadership and/or impact: includes the degree to which the project is youth-led, or includes youth in its decision-making process, and the extent to which the project’s main beneficiaries are youth.
  4. Inspirational impactincludes the project’s track-record and likelihood to go viral and inspire youth and other audiences around the world to become part of the #GenerationRestoration, as well as its uniqueness and use of interdisciplinary and intersectional knowledge.
  5. Operating model and potential for scale: includes a team with the right capacity and skillset to deliver on the project’s mission, the potential for scaling, and the extent to which the project has achieved financial viability and long-term sustainability, or has a vision and plan for achieving it.

Benefits for selected submissions

The best 10-20 submissions will be invited to a 4-month cohort programme facilitated by 1t.org to help scale and advance their impact. This programme, primarily designed for the leaders of the selected solutions (founders, CEOs, etc.), will include: 

  • Targeted Support: advice on technical, business, marketing and operational development questions
  • Visibility: public exposure via the Forum’s digital media channels (public websiteLinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter)
  • Access: opportunity to participate in selected World Economic Forum and 1t.org events, projects and communities; become part of 1t.org’s growing Innovator community and Challenge-related working group
  • Connections: introduction to selected organisations in the Forum’s network (incl. potential investors); custom support offered by Forum Partners and 1t.org Partners

Challenge Timeline

  • 16 April 2021 to 15 June 2021: open call for submissions
  • 17 June 2021 to August 2021: review and selection process
  • August 2021: selected submissions will be announced
  • September 2021 to December 2021: cohort programme to scale and advance impact