Clean Energy Challenge



Fossil fuels are the biggest cause of climate change and yet are still our primary source of energy. Cities consume over two thirds of the world’s energy and contribute to more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. This is why What Design Can Do is focussing its second Climate Action Challenge on urban energy issues. Together with IKEA Foundation and many local partners, we invite designers and creative entrepreneurs to rethink how we produce, distribute and use energy in our cities.  Everyone in the world should have access to enough energy to live a comfortable life, with access to clean water, nutritious food, shelter, healthcare, education and economic opportunities. Many in the world have this, but at the cost of the climate. We need to end our reliance on fossil fuels, while also ending energy poverty by providing access to reliable and affordable energy to everyone.To achieve this, we need to generate more energy overall, and it needs to be clean and green — meaning renewable, passive, kinetic; anything but fossil fuels. We will also need to use energy more wisely: more efficiently, and with less waste. We have to think differently about how we source our energy and how we use it.


Cities are home to more than 50 percent of the global population and consume the majority of the global primary energy supply — a lot of which still comes from fossil fuels. Cities emit 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide — likely even more when consumption-based emissions are accounted for. Cities therefore offer a huge opportunity to transform the way we generate and use energy: to end dependence on fossil fuels, radically expand usage of renewable energy, conserve energy and secure clean energy for all.We have worked closely with researchers, experts and designers in 5 globally influential cities to craft locally specific challenges informed by real stories, global key issues and local design capacity. Across São Paulo, México City, Delhi, Nairobi and Amsterdam we found that key elements of sustainable urban energy systems include clean and energy efficient transportation, waste management, building practices, food supply chains and public spaces.

We would like to mobilise the power of both local and global creative communities to take on the challenges in these 5 cities. Designers and creative thinkers from all over the world are encouraged to apply. So even if you don’t live in one of the 5 cities, you can still make a difference!