Teens take control of climate crisis in UNICEF competition

Five teams of teenagers have won funding to implement their climate change solutions.

19 October 2021

Teenagers in Ukraine have been working together to seek solutions to climate change, as part of a project from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partner INSCIENCE.

More than 500 teenagers applied to take part in the online ‘hackathon’, known as ECOTHON, from which 31 teams were selected to brainstorm their projects over two days on 1-3 October. Five teams of finalists then received UAH 20,000 each from UNICEF and ING Bank to implement their ideas.

These included an interactive mobile game, a chat bot, a board game to promote environmental conscience, an ‘eco-facts class’ for primary school students and an information campaign about the best ways to recycle organic waste. 

“UNICEF is concerned about climate change and we believe that it is extremely relevant, as the negative effects of climate crisis have the greatest impact on children and adolescents,” says UNICEF Chief of Communications Nina Sorokopud. “The vast majority of young people are concerned about environment issues and are willing to join in addressing them. The thinking behind ​​ECOTHON was to equip young people with more tools and resources so that they could implement their own ideas.”

ECOTHON participants also received advice and feedback from experts who work in sectors such as environmental protection, communications, project management and IT development.

“ECOTHON is a competition that gives everyone a real opportunity to implement their idea, regardless of their age,” says one of the team leaders, 17-year-old Oleksandra Shelest. “At first I could not imagine that we could create a real prototype of the eco-game, but the result was very surprising. We had great team work and this is excellent, because we did everything together and we were all for one idea. When we heard that our team made it to the finals, we realized that we were able to prove to experts that our game will fly. That is why now our team is motivated to continue working for the benefit of the environment and improving the environmental awareness of every student."

METRO Cash & Carry Ukraine, SoftServe and IDS Borjomi Ukraine were also partners of the event.

A special award from SoftServe was presented to the ‘ET CETERA Junior’ team for their online map of eco-events, which aimed to create an environmental protection community. This project will receive UAH 20,000 of funding and mentoring support from a leading IT company in Ukraine.

METRO Cash & Carry Ukraine also praised the ‘Recycle Buddy’ team for their online map of recycling stations. The team was invited to visit a sorting station in one of the METRO shopping centres in Kyiv and provided with valuable advice on waste collection.

Media contacts

Nina Sorokopud
Chief of Communication
UNICEF in Ukraine


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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