XPRIZE is proud to have participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held over the past two weeks in Dubai. This global summit brings together leaders from governments, business, NGOs, and civil society to take stock of current efforts to fight climate change and define future climate policy.
As the world leader in prize competitions to drive innovation, XPRIZE was thrilled to share how our model can accelerate solutions to the climate crisis and spotlight the work of our partners, active competitors, and alumni teams working to advance relevant technology. Global collaboration is at the heart of both XPRIZE and COP28, and is vital to overcoming humanity’s grand challenges.
COP28 IN REVIEW
At COP28, XPRIZE hosted several sessions to raise awareness for our projects related to climate issues and how the XPRIZE model can be applied to future problems. These sessions touched on several XPRIZE domains, including Biodiversity & Conservation; Climate & Energy; and Food, Water & Waste.
XPRIZE was honored to partner with the Business and Philanthropy Forum to collaborate on programming to unpack the success of XPRIZE as a foundation and discuss how incentive prize competitions can act as a catalyst to ignite global change. XPRIZE CEO Anousheh Ansari served as moderator of the “Ambitious Moonshot for a Sustainable Future” panel, which focused on the vital role moonshots play in reshaping our world’s climate trajectory. Anousheh Ansari also moderated the Scottish Government-supported Multi-Level Action and Urbanization Pavilion session “Space as a Route to Net Zero”, which included Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf.
Anousheh Ansari and XPRIZE Chief Impact Officer Andrew Tauhert also received attendees at the “Designing Visionary Climate Solutions” session, where they explored innovative ideas to address critical challenges in nature and the climate. In addition to natural and taught intelligence, they discussed how audacious hope, indomitable belief, and an unquenchable curiosity are all key traits to achieving lasting success.
CLIMATE & ENERGY
XPRIZE CARBON REMOVAL
XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity — fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. With deep ties to COP28’s core mission, this active prize ignited discussion around carbon removal and the need to catalyze the growth of this new industry. Executive Director Nikki Batchelor and Senior Technical Lead Michael Leitch represented XPRIZE Carbon Removal.
Batchelor and other panelists explored decarbonization, gender equality, and climate resilience efforts spanning various sectors at the “Multi-Level Action for a Warming World” panel at the Future Mobility Hub. With over 80 countries represented in XPRIZE Carbon Removal, XPRIZE holds a unique role in mobilizing the global community in both the public and private sectors.
Batchelor also participated as a panelist in a discussion, "Scaling Durable Carbon Removals: Mapping Global Opportunities and Obligations." This event, hosted by the Finnish Pavilion and organized by Puro.earth, Carbo Culture, and Rethinking Removals, provided an overview of the current state of Carbon Dioxide Removal and underscored the necessity for innovation in the sector. Bilha Ndirangu of Great Carbon Valley and Minister Anders Adlercreutz of Finland also discussed scaling targets in Kenya and hitting net zero for Finland by 2035, respectively. Hanna Ojanen, of Carbo Culture, moderated the discussion and highlighted the exciting work her company is doing as a competitor in XPRIZE Carbon Removal.
Read more about the state of the carbon removal industry written by Executive Director for XPRIZE Carbon Removal, Nikki Batchelor, here.
BIODIVERSITY & CONSERVATION
As the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, and through their work removing and storing massive amounts of carbon dioxide, rainforests are of key importance to planetary health. But they are under threat. Whether from climate change, human industry, or environmental disasters, work to preserve our remaining rainforests and their biodiversity is imperative to the future of our planet.
At COP28, XPRIZE Rainforest demonstrated how it is catalyzing a new industry at the intersection of biodiversity, conservation, and technology by illustrating the viability and potential impact of competing teams' solutions.
The challenges created by climate change are enormous, but our moonshot model creates the conditions needed to achieve solutions and gather a community of dedicated advocates from governments, Indigenous Peoples, activists, NGOs, and more, to protect biodiversity and accelerate innovations.
XPRIZE EVP of Biodiversity & Conservation, Peter Houlihan, joined leaders from the tropics in the “International Cooperation for the Fight Against Biodiversity Loss” panel to discuss how international collaboration between governments, NGOs, and civil society can reduce biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss not only harms these ecosystems that are falling past their tipping point, but also the Indigenous Peoples and communities who call the regions home. The development of new technology and more productive international collaboration can improve accountability and current conservation efforts.
The following day, XPRIZE Rainforest hosted the “Technology and Nature” event with prize sponsor Alana Foundation, a social and environmental impact group that promotes a better world for children, alongside the Ministry of Development, Industry & Commerce of Brazil. Sônia Guajajara, Brazilian Minister of Indigenous Peoples, joined other speakers from Brazil to celebrate the Amazon and explore how tech, including those advancements in development by XPRIZE Rainforest teams, can support the preservation of the rainforest for people and the planet. With the right implementation, technology could turn the tide of biodiversity loss and preserve a green world.
XPRIZE CORAL RESTORATION
Although rainforests are the most visible signs of biodiversity loss and conservation crisis, the world beneath our oceans is facing similar challenges. Around the globe, we have already lost 50% of all corals, eliminating entire ecosystems that once flourished with color and life.
According to scientific consensus, if the oceans warm an additional 2 degrees Celsius, 99% of all corals on the planet will die leading to untold disaster. We would lose more than 1 million species, fisheries would collapse, and an estimated 200 million people would be displaced by hurricanes and extreme weather, which in turn would lead to mass migration, starvation, and heightened global conflict.
Terrifyingly, all current climate models see us hitting that threshold in the next 20 years. To change this future, we need radical innovations now that can restore and revitalize coral reefs before they disappear forever.
At a private reception hosted by Mandarin Oriental for XPRIZE Coral Restoration, Werner Anzinger, General Manager and Area Vice President Operations of Mandarin Oriental, Dubai, gave his support:
XPRIZE participated in a roundtable discussion with Ocean Decade and OceanX Pavilion, alongside experts in marine science, to explore how the XPRIZE model of moonshot competitions may incentivize breakthroughs for marine technology. At the session “Peace Boat Ecoship: Towards the Decarbonization of the Maritime Sector”, XPRIZE EVP Peter Houlihan joined humanitarian foundation Peace Boat to discuss how the decarbonization of our oceans can help restore coral health.
EVP Peter Houlihan also took to the official COP28 Tech & Innovation Hub stage to share how XPRIZE Coral Restoration can accelerate the innovative approaches needed to restore and conserve coral reefs, as well as the innovative collaborations XPRIZE is initiating to launch the project, including our work with Time Magazine Climate100 champion Hon. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.
Peter Houlihan also spoke at the “Cold-Water Corals: Hidden Treasures in the Deep Ocean” event, affirming XPRIZE’s commitment to total ocean health. XPRIZE then invited experts from the Coral Research and Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP) to continue the discussion on deep sea coral reefs. By developing new technologies through global incentive competitions, we can change the outlook for the future of coral reefs and other ocean ecosystems.
As world leaders, foundations, and activists came together for the closing sessions of COP28, XPRIZE was proud to sign the COP28 UAE Dubai Ocean Declaration. This commitment calls on world leaders to support efforts to improve ocean observations worldwide and provide a basis for understanding, mitigating, or adapting to change in our oceans.
FOOD, WATER, & WASTE
XPRIZE FEED THE NEXT BILLION
During Food, Agriculture, and Water Day at COP28, XPRIZE Food, Water & Waste EVP, Lauren Greenlee spoke on the “Food4Climate, Food Systems, FAO and Water for Climate Pavilion Celebration” panel. Participating organizations held discussions around key issues facing both food and water and examined how technology can alleviate this burden. Greenlee was excited to contribute news about the technological advancements of teams participating in XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, and XPRIZE looks forward to being an ongoing part of this conversation in the future!
XPRIZE later co-sponsored a reception with ProVeg International, a strategic partner on XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion. ProVeg is a food awareness organization with a mission to transform the global food system by replacing 50% of animal products globally with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040. This reception inspired attendees to explore innovative approaches to food and water security and challenge their own awareness of our food’s impact on planetary health.
A FUTURE OF EQUITABLE ABUNDANCE FOR ALL
XPRIZE believes in the vision of a future of equitable abundance for all, and is committed to accelerating the technologies that are critical to making that future a reality. Each of us has the power to imagine a better world and take up the challenge of creating it one innovation at a time.
Global climate policy can help us chart the course forward, but we need innovative solutions now more than ever before. As the designer and steward of grand challenge incentive prizes XPRIZE is uniquely positioned to help accelerate us towards a sustainable future.
From rapidly suppressing wildfires, to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, revolutionizing our food proteins and restoring reefs – we are doing the work and invite you to join us.
We’d like to send a big thank you to all of our amazing partners: Brazil's Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, the Legal Amazon Consortium, our XPRIZE Rainforest sponsor Alana, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, the Carbon Removals at COP Coalition, Rethinking Removals, the Carbon Business Council, UN Climate Champions, Global Carbon Removal Partnership, Carbon Gap, International Biochar Initiative, Puro.earth, Carbo Culture and ProVeg International.
We’d also like to send our thanks to H.E. Surangel Whipps, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, and The Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, who were generous enough to take the time to provide opening and closing remarks in our Business and Philanthropy Forum session on Day 1.