Green initiative takes silver for Auckland students

University of Auckland students brought home silver in the 2019 World’s Challenge Challenge, held earlier this month at Western University in London, Canada.

(l-r) Global Studies students: Henry Frear, Arianna Bacic, and Ishie Sharma

Arianna Bacic, Ishie Sharma and Henry Frear from the Global Studies programme, joined 20 student teams from nine countries for the international pitch competition and a chance at seed money to bring their world-changing ideas to life.  

Winning $15,000, the Auckland team developed an eco-friendly loyalty program called Loyal Trees that allows environmentally conscious consumers to make sustainable choices, resulting in the planting of trees to offset carbon emissions, promote ethical purchasing and address the issue of climate change. Their solution included an app for customers to accrue points with participating retailers, which could then be redeemed for the planting of trees.

First place went to the University of Waterloo (UK) for an initiative to introduce an antimicrobial reusable sanitary pad sourced and distributed in Uganda. The University at Buffalo (US) came third with a project to introduce a new protein burger product made of mealworms intended to reduce greenhouse gases. 

We met and were inspired by a diverse, passionate, and driven group of people committed to making a difference in the world.

Arianna Bacic

The finalist students, heat winners at their individual universities, had been tasked with innovating and incubating new ideas to address a global issue. Some other areas covered easier access to safer surgeries, building sustainable communities, improving elderly health and saving the world from the overuse of plastics.

Student Arianna Bacic said that the competition was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that motivated the team to persevere with their work.

“We met and were inspired by a diverse, passionate, and driven group of people committed to making a difference in the world,” she said.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) encourages students from around the globe to work collaboratively on innovative solutions to problems relating to the Sustainable Development Goals, supporting the development of academic, oral presentation, and entrepreneurial skills.

In 2015, the United Nations put forward a list of new Sustainable Development Goals – 17 important targets for issues such as poverty, food sustainability, clean energy, climate action, education, technology and infrastructure. Earlier this year the University of Auckland was rated first in the world in the inaugural Times Higher Education Sustainability ranking based on how well universities were delivering on the United Nations' Sustainable  Development Goals.

This was the first year the University of Auckland had taken part in the World’s Challenge Challenge. As well as the students' own efforts, the initiative was supported by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, the Global Studies programme, the Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the University’s 360 International programme.

Media queries

Lisa Finucane
Mob: 021 267 7216