First EIT Climate-KIC Journey Community Summit held in Hamburg

The first ever EIT Climate-KIC Journey Community Summit was held in Hamburg, Germany, on 23 – 24 July 2019, crowning the end of the July part of the Journey summer school in 2019.

All four Journeys taking place in July – with a total of 160 participants – convened in Hamburg for the last part of their four-week residential programme, where they finally had the chance to pitch their respective climate solutions to their peers, a panel of experts and other specialists within the climate and start-up field.

This year, the Journeys have focused on systems innovation and on creating and delivering change with higher impact, in other words working towards creating transformative, systemic change in society.

Consequently, the Journey programme is tailored to foster a learning environment where participants could learn and understand what the system their respective Journey has touched upon actually looks like. This has involved identifying the core challenges within those systems, what the leavers of change within the systems are and how these need to be addressed in order to develop good climate solutions poised to deliver impact.

The newly introduced concept of Journey Community Summits are an essential part of this learning and for ideating solutions for the future, as they offer a space for the participants to share, collaborate and network with all the Journeys that have taken place simultaneously across Europe for deeper, systemic change to become possible.

The ambiance at the Summit was extraordinary; the vigour, motivation and sense of community coursed the air from the very first minutes.

“The energy that is in this room, particularly towards their mission, the idea that they can go out into the world and be change agents, is very high”

said Eleanor Saunders, Journey Lead at EIT Climate-KIC.

Pitching solutions

It is no wonder that the energy and drive was high, as all the dedication and hard work from the previous weeks culminated at the Summit, where the teams pitched their climate change mitigation and adaptation ideas to their peers and a panel of experts, gaining valuable feedback from the panel and audience.

The range of pitched solutions varied from technological solutions like innovative energy storage technologies, optimised agriculturual practices and solutions targeting various forms of mobility to solutions targeting societal challenges by turning raised awareness into action, insights on how to communicate about the climate crisis and to ideas spanning behavioural challenges targeting consumption and production through optimised resource use and by encouraging a sharing economy.

Convening for the first time in this new format, the Summit offered the participants an unprecedented opportunity to talk and interact with their peers, to share what they have been working on with others and possibly – with assistance, feedback and encouragement from the other participants and experts at the Summit – transform and develop these ideas into something bigger.

“It feels great to be here at the Summit, to extend our group, to see what other people have been doing and extend our vision again from our little project to all the other people” said Lena, Climate Journey participant at the Quixote Journey. 

The power of community

In addition to pitching their projects, the Summit also provided an opportunity to showcase that EIT Climate-KIC is much more than the Journey by introducing the participants to the alumni network and giving them the opportunity to explore their next steps together with representatives from universities, industry and Climate-KIC.

The presence of Journey alumni was particularly inspiring, as these connections and stories show the possibilities that lie beyond the Journey. For one such alumni, the Journey was life changing in every sense of the word:

“When we did the Journey we went to the Netherlands and from that we did start our own start-up, which involved me moving from Portugal to the Netherlands. I’ve been living there now for eight months and the learning curve has been astonishing. You’re in a different culture, trying to set up a business” said Rafael, Climate Journey 2018 alumni.

“I’ve been learning so much and career wise, it’s the best experience lately”

he continued.

Hope inspires action

The Journey Community Summit also featured some powerful keynotes. Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome and EIT Climate-KIC advisory board member, highlighted the urgency of transformational change and that it is vital to have these hard discussions about climate topics in order to transform and make a difference.

“We don’t have another 50 years, we need to get it right now.”

– Sandrine Dixson-Declève

The closing ceremony of the Climate Journey Community Summit also provided a sense of unity by indicating the power and importance of a movement.

Here Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC, captured the audience’s imagination by presenting climate change as an opportunity to transform society to the better, reminding us that hope – not despair – is what inspires action.

The journey beyond the Journey

But what about the next steps for the participants after the Community Summit? The two days after the Summit and the last days of the Journey were dedicated to decision making in the smaller project groups and provided a time to personally reflect on the learning programme as a whole, the professional and personal skillset the experience has fostered and how these new-learned insights and skills can be taken forward.

 “The journey is a really special experience as I never saw myself as an entrepreneur, but it was also about developing entrepreneurial skills in areas that you maybe don’t want to work in but with topics related to climate change. Not only to learn about the facts and the figures, but also what you can contribute as a person and what personal skills you want to develop and how that can help.”

– Florine, Climate Journey participant

The personal growth and learning during the Journey can mean all the difference in the world. Before taking part in the Journey, Journey 2018 alumni Rafael lacked the idea and the courage to be an entrepreneur. According to him, 

“The Journey gave me the project I was looking for and it gave me the network, support and confidence that yes, we can do it – a little push. In the end that was the biggest learning. Learn to believe in yourself and learn to take that leap and don’t look behind – it’s better than anything else.”

So dear change makers – continue your Journey, reflect on all you have learnt and experienced this past month and transform your outstanding ideas and skills into climate action.

EIT Climate-KIC Journey is the world’s largest climate innovation summer school offering transformative learning experiences for master level students and young professionals. During the Journey, participants learn how to innovate systems to enable faster transitions toward net-zero carbon societies through a series of multidisciplinary learning labs.