Man Offers $5 Million for Anyone With Solutions to Climate Change

Szombatfalvy and his organisation’s impetus for the prize seem to be a disillusionment with the political system.

Updated24 Nov 2016, 12:27 PM IST
3 min read

Expressing not much hope in different governments around the world as well as the UN to arrest pressing global issues such as climate change, a Swedish man believes that the need of the hour is an overhaul in the global decision-making system.

89-year-old László Szombatfalvy, a philanthropist, believes that this overhaul can be driven by the citizens themselves. His organisation, Global Challenges Foundation, has introduced a 5 million dollar prize for anyone who comes up with the best ideas for a new and ingenious decision-making framework that would be better suited to tackle contemporary cross-border problems – including climate change, displacement and migration, nuclear threat, and poverty.

The entries for the New Shape Prize – as it is called – would be open till 24 May 2017, and would subsequently undergo a rigorous process of scrutiny by reputed academicians and a "high-level jury". The results would be declared in November next year.

Szombatfalvy’s initiative comes after a historic climate change agreement was signed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. (Photo: iStock)
Szombatfalvy’s initiative comes after a historic climate change agreement was signed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. (Photo: iStock)

The Need to Remodel for Today’s Problems

Today’s risks are so dangerous and so global in their nature that they’ve outrun the international system’s ability to deal with them. We’re trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s tools.
László Szombatfalvy to Reuters

Szombatfalvy and his organisation's impetus for the prize seem to be based on a disillusionment with the political system – the governments across the world and the UN – when it comes to taking concrete action on pressing global issues.

We have the United Nations, but the United Nations was founded in 1946, with the challenges we had at that time. We’re now some years down the road. We need to remodel and find new ways.
Mats Andersson, Head of Global Challenges Foundation to Reuters

Notably, such an initiative comes after the historic climate change agreement was signed at the United Nations climate change conference (CoP 21) in Paris last year – overseen by 196 countries. The most important stated goal of the agreement was to restrict the temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius in comparison to pre-industrial levels.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Initiative

One should also bear in mind that there have been similar high-profile initiatives in the past, which sought to address the problem of climate change in their own ways.

For instance, back in 2007, business tycoon Richard Branson announced a 25 million dollar cash prize for anyone who provided the best solution to get rid of the noxious greenhouse gases in the atmosphere under the Virgin Earth Challenge initiative. Branson also made a pledge to invest 3 billion dollars for fighting climate change, and came under criticism for reportedly not being able to fulfil his promise.

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio too has been actively involved in campaigning against climate change. His recent documentary, Before the Flood, deals with various dimensions of climate change and was quite well-received, commanding high levels of viewership. Besides, DiCaprio also runs the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation which has, as its aim, protecting the environment and mitigating climate change.

In the current context, with the Western world becoming more inward-looking and reactionary and a climate change skeptic such as Donald Trump elected the President of USA, one might expect a setback to collaborative government efforts to fight climate change.

Therefore, the need of the hour is to encourage private and citizen-centric initiatives.

But the question is: Would an initiative such as the one by Global Challenges Foundation turn out to be as impressive in terms of its implementation as it is on paper?

(Source: Reuters)

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Published: 24 Nov 2016, 11:43 AM IST

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