Climate change is changing weather patterns, bringing more extreme weather events that push people, and the infrastructure we rely on, to the limits of our ability to cope and survive.
Record breaking high temperatures and dangerous heat waves in recent years have resulted in a rapid increase in heat related deaths, and extreme heat events are becoming more frequent, more intense and longer lasting as climate change continues to warm the planet.
Temporary settlements offer shelter to internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees. Many are in areas that expect to see significant increases in the occurrence of deadly heat waves over the next decade. This is particularly problematic where extreme heat and high humidity are combined.
Currently, the materials used for temporary shelters often increase the temperatures inside these shelters on hot days. This can make the shelters dangerous during heat waves, particularly for people who for physical or cultural reasons find it difficult to leave the shelter. In addition, settlement design, which often fails to incorporate shade or green spaces, can exacerbate these effects.
Communal buildings are particularly high risk. Schools and clinics are where large numbers of people who are particularly vulnerable to heat congregate, for example the elderly and newborn babies are less able to self regulate their body temperature and are at risk of fatality in these extreme heat conditions. How can IDP and refugee settlements, and the buildings / temporary shelters within them, be better designed to protect people from extreme heat events, in particular those most vulnerable.
Make sure your design is consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2024: Engineering Solutions for a Sustainable World.
This year, the Hackathon is primarily focused on UN SDG 13:
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
This particular challenge also connects with UN SDG 11:
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Participants may nominate additional SDGs that are addressed as part of their solution, including but not limited to, for example:
SDG 3 - Good Health and Wellbeing
SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
Analysis has found that about half the world’s population has seen record-breaking high temperatures for their location at some point over the past decade resulting in significant human impact. For example, in 2023, more than 70,000 people died as a result of high temperatures across Europe. Global temperatures are predicted to surge to record levels in the next five years and one of the next five years will become the hottest on record
At the end of 2022, 108.4 million people worldwide were considered forcibly displaced; this number includes refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and other people in need of international protection. In other words, more than 1 person in every 74 people on planet Earth had to leave their home as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order. 40% of them are children. New and ongoing conflicts continue to force people to flee, and climate change is projected to force an additional 216 million people to move by 2050. Climate related migration is projected to start as early as 2030, with people migrating from areas with low water availability and crop productivity, and from areas affected by sea-level rise and storm surges
Internally displaced people (those who move within their own countries) constitute 58% of the forcibly displaced population globally, and 70% of refugees stay as close to their home country as possible, waiting in neighbouring countries.
These mass influxes of population often result in a proliferation of temporary settlements to meet basic needs, but they are uniquely dangerous environments for extreme-heat impacts. They are often densely populated, located on marginal land with limited fresh water, shading and other natural features that can mitigate extreme temperatures. Whilst international guidelines, such as the Sphere standards, stipulate the use of locally available materials that would normally be used by the local host population and likely be adapted to local heat conditions, plastic sheeting is the most often deployed shelter material. The people in camp settings will also use coping mechanisms such as cutting down trees for fuel, which can further expose them to extreme heat risks.
These temporary settlements are not intended to provide permanent solutions but often remain for years, and in some cases decades. For example Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya primarily hosts Somali refugees, most of whom arrived in 1991 after fleeing Somalia’s civil war. A recent study of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows camp settings are concentrated in areas of severe projected future increases in days of extremely high temperatures, including in sub-Saharan Africa, and West and South Asia.
Improving conditions in temporary settlements to cope with extreme heat events will result in saving countless lives as people will continue to rely on these places across the spectrum of life, from birth through to old age. Tackling this issue is about protecting human dignity in the most vulnerable of situations where resources, in particular funding, are highly constrained.
Human activity over the last 200 years has led to a current temperature rise of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. This has led to more frequent and hazardous weather events that have caused increasing destruction to people and the planet. Every additional increment in temperature rise will result in more extreme, and more frequent weather events, putting humanity’s future on planet Earth at risk.
There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to change this outlook. The latest UN assessment indicates that to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C – as called for in 2015 in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Our actions in the next decade will determine whether this will be achieved, or whether we are headed towards a future climate that is incompatible with liveable and sustainable planetary conditions for all
Significant urgent action is therefore needed across all sectors, in all countries, and at all levels of society. Projected CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure alone will exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C. Therefore, we have to immediately reduce carbon emissions, work towards net zero, and accelerate the transition to alternative energy sources. Simultaneously we have to develop and implement effective resilient adaptation measures for people and communities already impacted by climate change.
Engineers from all disciplines are at the forefront of bringing this vision to life, providing the practical means by which humanity has a chance to survive and offer everyone the opportunity to thrive.
Be part of this call to action and shape a brighter future for everyone.
Submissions are due by November 26th 2023 (midnight CET)
You and your team will need to:
Register on the submissions portal
Submission is a 5-min video presenting your solution, along with a short-written element, detailing elements of your entry. English subtitles are required, including for a video in English.
We would like to thank our esteemed partners in this Hackathon: Dr Marlene Kanga, Théophane Bélaud, Jacques de Mereuil, Ivan Juiz of WFEO. Indira Ashwini of UNESCO. Katie Cresswell-Maynard of Engineers Without Borders. Firas N Bou Diab of WFEO Young Engineers/Future Leaders. Tennille Scicluna and Adrian Rivera de Domingo of The Big Creative!
This guideline has been designed to support the development of an engineering solution that demonstrates a considered response to one of the engineering challenges and also how one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are advanced through engineering.
The success of an engineering project depends on much more than just the technical feasibility of the initial concept but also consideration of human factors, environmental context, cost and economic benefits, etc., are very important to the successful implementation of any innovative and ‘technically-sound’ idea.
Below are a series of considerations we recommend you factor into your solution to ensure it is appropriate to the context where it is to be implemented. You might ask yourself these questions a few times throughout the development process – it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right away! How can you build on your original idea, to improve it each time?
Most effective technical solution for the context
Environmental sustainability outcomes
Engagement of key stakeholders
Are there any ethical considerations – such as adverse impacts to the environment, economy, social inclusion, culture, community, resource use, that warrant consideration?
How has your team utilised digital tools, for example to develop models of your proposed solution as part of the solution. Also how the team has utilised ICT in the process of putting forward your submission.
Cost estimates and economic and non-economic benefits
Based on the International Engineering Alliance Global Graduate Attribute and Professional Competencies Profiles.
Considering the proposal presented to you, evaluate whether the submission demonstrates the following engineering competencies.
Graduate Attributes that are addressed in the solution, referencing the International Engineering Alliance Graduate Attribute and Professional Competency (GAPC) Framework
Maximum Score per Category 4
Score: 0 – Not Addressed
Score: 1 – Limited attempt to address
Score: 2 – Some success in addressing the various elements
Score: 3 – Good attempt to address the element
Score: 4 – Addressed very effectively
In 2024, the hackathon has a single submission round. Participants will have the opportunity to make their official submission within 2 weeks of the Hackathon Challenge announcement.
Submission is a 5-min video presenting their solution, along with a short-written element, detailing elements of their entry.
Explore the Hackathon challenges. Teams must select a challenge. Click to learn more