Global call for transformative solutions to tackle the climate emergency

EIT Climate-KIC launches Climathon Global Awards and Healthy, Clean Cities initiatives to accelerate decarbonisation of 100 cities by 2030

Europe’s largest public-private partnership, EIT Climate-KIC is calling for cities around the world to engage in climate action through its ‘Climathon Global Awards’ to find new systems-level solutions to tackle the worsening climate crisis. The vision is to transform 100 cities into carbon-neutral areas by 2030.

EIT Climate-KIC is urging funders to come forward to support city interventions and ensure the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change impacts. The commitment, to help 100 cities create transformational strategies towards 2030 climate neutrality, is a ten-year commitment with five years of funding of €1 million per year for each city. EIT Climate-KIC is providing seed funding to a diverse cohort of cities and is working on building a comprehensive funding platform to leverage public and private funds.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme said, “The science is telling us that the climate crisis is accelerating and cities must adapt. Nature can be a powerful tool to address pollution, climate change and fast-track the decarbonisation of cities. I hope city leaders come forward and engage with the Climathon Global Awards to create climate-resilient societies in which natural ecosystems and people thrive.”

Milan, a city in this initial cohort of cities, is demonstrating rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented change. Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer for the municipality of Milan, commented: “Enabling climate investment and sustainable behaviour has become an urgent matter for the City of Milan. The unique EIT-Climate KIC support is moving us from planning to action. Their integrated approach gives us an unbelievable opportunity to look at the socio-economic impact and opportunity for our community.”

Partnering with Crowther Lab, a world-leading climate research lab, EIT Climate-KIC will work with winning entries and cities in the Climathon Global Awards to tackle major issues including: air pollution, fair, prosperous and sustainable local economies, clean and efficient mobility and energy systems.

Winning cities will receive fast track coaching and support by world-leading experts in their fields. Seed funding will be available for the top visionary concepts as well as an opportunity to connect and exchange with EIT Climate-KIC’s network of Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstration.

Dr. Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC commented: “EIT Climate-KIC is looking for the most visionary innovators to help cities tackle climate change in a timely and effective way. Taking a systemic approach, through a portfolio of innovations, working across siloes and boundaries, involving people from the ground up and making sure to learn from unusual actors: these are just some of the ways in which we support cities to rise to the scale of the challenge presented by climate change.”

“We know that it is only by working together, as a movement, that we can create the conditions for transformation. The Climathon Awards will recognise the most forward-thinking innovations – willing and able to work on changing systems – in order to enable cities to demonstrate what is possible and bring the future forward.”

The Climathon Awards serve as a far-reaching global call for city leaders to collaborate with scientists, NGOs, entrepreneurs and other innovators to develop innovative local solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. In particular, there will be a strong focus on ‘systemic innovation’ as the most effective solutions need to encompass both domestic and international governance, policy, and the financial and market structures that influence behaviour.

One of the key goals of the partnership between Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich and EIT Climate-KIC’s Climathon is set to harness the potential of nature into local systemic climate action in cities.

The need for this type of solution within cities is clear. By 2050, more than two-thirds of the global population will live in cities. Crowther Lab’s groundbreaking research reveals that 77 per cent of the cities around the world will experience a dramatic change of climatic conditions over the next 30 years. A recent paper in Nature analysed the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in cities and called for innovative solutions that leverage nature, such as strategic tree reforestation on a global scale.

Professor Thomas Crowther, founder of the Crowther Lab, said: “Many cities have creative ideas on what they could do to combat climate change locally, particularly when it comes to incorporating nature within urban environments. Now they can win support to make their intention a reality. Together with city specialists from EIT Climate-KIC we’ll help them develop visionary, scalable and replicable solutions to climate change.”

EIT Climate-KIC and Crowther Lab have developed a knowledge pack with case studies of how cities are already implementing innovative solutions to address the climate crisis to inspire creativity amongst applicants.

Global Award applications can be submitted from 26 October 2019, with the shortlist announced on 13 December, before the winner is announced in January. To enter, visit  

The winning entries will be announced at the Climathon Global Awards Ceremony on 31 January 2020 in Paris during the ChangeNOW summit, when all finalists will receive implementation training as well as free entrance to the awards ceremony and three-day summit.



For more information, graphics and interviews, please contact:

Rachel Parkes                                     +44 7775 652919

Rosie Tod                                                    +44 7861 530357




About EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a net-zero carbon economy. With over 380 formal partners from across 26 countries, its mission is to catalyse systemic change for climate action through innovation in areas of human activity that have a critical impact on greenhouse gas emissions – cities, lands, materials and finance – and to create climate-resilient communities. Education underpins these themes to accelerate learning and to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.

At the heart of EIT Climate-KIC’s approach is ‘systems innovation as a service’ whereby it creates a space for a portfolio of strategic innovation options and experiments, oriented around structural levers of change, designed with and for problem owners like city and regional governments, industry owners and directors, community organisations and policymakers. The organisation acts as a multi-sided platform, working across boundaries and across sectors, fostering innovation as a catalyst for transformation. It facilitates the creation of innovation consortia and community-driven change. It challenges and enriches business model design. It offers tailored support for experimentation, implementation and scaling.



Climathon is a year-round programme with a powerful solutions-hackathon at its core, generating projects, supporting climate-positive businesses and start-ups and addressing local policy changes. 

Climathon empowers citizens, cities and local economies to come together to develop local solutions to cities’ climate challenges. Powered by dynamic and dedicated Local Organisers, Climathon has grown to over 100 cities and with a global reach in the millions. Climathon is supported by EIT Climate-KIC, a body of the European Union.


EIT Climate-KIC Deep demonstrations

Deep Demonstrations are a central part of our Transformation, in Time strategy. Deep Demonstrations are intended as a way of showing that a 1.5-degree future is both possible and desirable. They involve working with challenge owners, like City and Regional and National governments and major companies, to direct innovation towards multiple levers of change simultaneously and generate viable pathways to change through testing alternatives and identifying scalable options for decision-makers, policymakers and investors.


The Crowther Lab is a network of the next generation of leading global climate scientists, specializing in ecology. The lab enhances climate predictions by pairing top-down satellite data with the largest set of ground-sourced data. Its research is not only focused on understanding climate change but also on addressing climate change.  

The Crowther Lab is part of ETH Zürich, the world’s leading University in Earth and Environmental Sciences.


Useful links:

  • City Deep Demonstration Innovation Insight Paper – link
  • Healthy, Clean Cities slides – link
  • Enablers of Change Framework – link
  • Climathon Global City Award pack – link
Related Focus Area
Urban Transitions
Related Goal
Goal 2: Nurture nature-based resilience for cities
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