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Over the past month, we’ve reviewed more than 130 submissions to Solve’s Coastal Communities Challenge: how can coastal communities mitigate and adapt to climate change while developing and prospering? These solutions come from all parts of the world, and reflect a wide variety of stages and technologies.
Read on for five trends from the submitted solutions. You can vote for your favorite solution now—and we’ll name the next Solver class at Solve Challenge Finals on September 23.
1. What Was Overrepresented: Seafood Solutions
We were expecting some submissions solving problems related to seafood, but were surprised to see that that 21 percent of solutions are related to the seafood sector in some fashion. Solutions spanned the supply chain from tracking wild fish to new aquaculture methods, to new technologies to preserve the catch and track fish to consumers.
Fisheries—and the many communities dependent on them—are certainly impacted by climate change; many wild stocks of fish are shifting as a result of warming oceans. This trend may also be driven by a rise in startups working on tech for fisheries, driven by growing global demand for seafood and overfished natural stocks.
2. What Was Underrepresented: Corals
There are a few areas where we expected to see more solutions. One was on coral reefs, which are facing myriad climate challenges including warming and acidifying seas. However, only 5 percent of solutions focused on corals, far fewer than expected.
One potential explanation here is that projects to protect and restore corals are often led by governments or large coalitions— who are less likely to submit to Solve—rather than startups or small nonprofits.
3. What Showed Up Unprompted: Plastics
Marine plastic waste has seen a new spate of viral videos and interest in the past year, and is an ongoing and complex challenge. We spent a lot of time discussing it during the challenge design process, but the final challenge had a low connection.
However, 6 percent of our solutions explicitly addressed mitigating plastic waste in some fashion, perhaps demonstrating the amount of creative work happening in this space.
4. What Was Unexpected: Cultural Heritage
Climate change threatens the existence of many low-lying coastal communities, but one less physical focus was on the associated cultural and educational impacts of climate change. Around 10 percent of the submissions address issues related to coastal communities’ culture in some way.
Some of the solutions are helping communities visualize coastal problems such as flooding risks and plan inclusive responses for communities that may get cut off or have to move. Others are crowdsourcing documentation of landscape change. Other submissions include theater performances to build community knowledge or storing the stories of elders on blockchains for cultural preservation in the face of potential diaspora.
5. What Showed Up Everywhere: Good Food Tech
We received many solutions that demonstrate the impact of existing technologies spreading globally, including food technologies. These 24 submissions include variations or local adoption of hydroponics or aquaponics systems, refrigeration technologies on fishing boats, or climate-smart agriculture.
This cluster demonstrates both the importance of sharing best practices for good ideas and the need for robust entrepreneurial ecosystems at regional levels. We’ll be working with Solve’s global member network to support this type of regional work over the next year. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote for the most promising Coastal Communities solution!
Sustainability Community intern Jaya Gatchell contributed to this article.
Image: Courtesy of Pixaby