Hackathon // Sustainable Development Goals

October 2017 // Kaunas, Lithuania

Bringing together technology and sustainable development, the Hack for World Hackathon – the first such event in Lithuania – empowers tech-savvy youth to actively engage with some of the most pressing global challenges. The Hackathon, organised as a student team competition with expert guidance, seeks innovative tech solutions to address human trafficking and sustainable energy.

 

WHY HACK FOR WORLD?

In 2015 the United Nations adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, meant to tackle the world’s most pressing problems such as poverty, inequality, and climate change. Solutions are set out in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which countries pledged to implement by the year 2030. However, two years down the line, public awareness and understanding of the SDGs in Lithuania remains extremely low. This is one of the reasons why Lithuanians often remain passive observers of global affairs rather than active participants in decision-making processes and implementers of global initiatives.

Given the remarkable impressive information and communications technologies (ICT) sector advancement in Lithuania, and the potential ICT student body being largely comprised of talented young minds amongst university students, Afri|Ko organised Hackathon for// Sustainable Development Goals, the first of its kind in Lithuania. With ICT4D (ICT for Development) as a starting point, the Hackathon – under the banner “Hack for World” – brings together ICT and sustainable development, where one works for the other for the betterment of both. Believing that modern technologies allow for a more efficient way to deal with certain global challenges, the Hackathon invites students to create innovative solutions for problems addressed by the SDGs.

The two focus areas selected are human trafficking (SDG 5 Gender Equality + SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth) and sustainable energy (SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy).

 

WHY HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY?

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

According to official data released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 21 million people are affected by forced labour, trafficking and slavery around the world today. Of those, 68% are exploited in the labour sector, i.e. industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, and domestic work. However issues related to human trafficking are too often ignored when the so-called ‘refugees crisis’ in Europe is discussed, as if thesre two awere not connected. Available data shows that in 2014, 72% of all victims of human trafficking were women from a number of several African countries. Tricked by local agents to leave their home countries for unspecified jobs in Europe, many were later forced into prostitution. And although states have adopted laws to combat human trafficking, penalties remain very low and do not deter traffickers who take risks for high profits. The ILO estimates that human trafficking and forced labour bring annual profits of at least $150 billion.

Sustainable Development Goal targets related to human trafficking (SDG5, SDG8):

  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

Out of the world’s seven billion human inhabitants, more than one billion don’t have access to electricity, or 1 in 7 people. The majority – close to 95% – live in certain regions in Africa. Access to clean, safe, and affordable energy thus comes as priority, as it helps people meet their basic needs such as lightning and cooking. Researchers have also noticed the positive effect that access to energy has on people’s economic well-being, better learning outcomes, and students’ health.

Sustainable Development Goal targets related to sustainable energy (SDG7):

  • By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.
  • By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support.

 

MENTORS

  • Eva Brandt (Little Sun Foundation) // Solar energy for vulnerable communities
  • Fatima Issah (Piam onlus) // Assistant to survivors of trafficking
  • Geda Daškevičiūtė-Lazdauskienė (VITP) // CANVAS business model workshop
  • Gintas Butėnas (Bitė Lietuva) // Chief Technology Officer
  • Justas Tomkus (SneakyBox) // Developer
  • Katja Sarajava (SPIDER) // SDGs and ICT specialist
  • Laurynas Vaičiulis (Pawame) // Mobile solar energy product development
  • Mari Hanikat (Garage48) // Business & Product development at Hackathon
  • Mirjam van Reisen (Leiden University) // Professor, Computing for Society, ICT role in human trafficking
  • Oliver Goh (iamus) // CEO and Founder
  • Renata Urbonė (Esperonus) // ICT4D innovation development expert

 

HACKATHON IN THE MEDIA

15 min. online news portal (LT):

Curiosity and modern technologies might save people from slavery

 

WINNING IDEA

The winning idea was selected by a jury based on its originality, potential impact and realistic applicability, as well as based on the quality of pitching by the teams. Facing the inter-connected issues of migration and human trafficking, the winning team proposed the idea of Virtual reality glasses as a mobile information-sharing set and possibly deterrent. The tool would present trafficking-associated hardships that would-be migrants are at risk of experiencing.

“This solution is both innovative and useful. Migration from West Africa and human trafficking are closely related, and it’s very important to spread awareness of these processes,” says Fatima Issah, senior assistant to survivors of human trafficking with the Italian NGO Piam onlus. “Most parents would think twice before encouraging their children to travel to Europe with smugglers, if they knew the risks that lay ahead.”

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