Genève Aéroport Climathon 2020 challenge


Harnessing the power of collective intelligence to find solutions to the climate challenges of tomorrow: this is the goal of Climathon, a hackathon taking place in 145 cities around the world. In Geneva, co-organised by eqlosion and the Impact Hub incubator, the event took place on 13 and 14 November, bringing together 100 virtual participants. Some of the participants focused on a challenge put forward by Climathon partner Genève Aéroport for its centenary: the airport of the future.

Twenty-four hours on the clock and not a minute more! This was the time allotted to participants last Friday to Saturday for the second Geneva Climathon, to find concrete solutions for local issues on the topic of the climate. The demands of Covid meant that this year’s event had to take place entirely online, but this mattered little: the motivation of «hackers» from all walks of life (entrepreneurs, students and professionals alike) was as strong as ever.

This year, three challenges were put to the teams. With the support of experts and coaches, the teams explored new approaches to hybrid online and in-person events, as well as smart meter data. Some also explored the idea of human interactions between continents in 2050, a challenge launched by Genève Aéroport. «We are celebrating our centenary, but our eyes are firmly on the future», explained André Schneider, General Manager of Genève Aéroport, at the Climathon opening event. «We need you to imagine what our airport could be like in 30 years. What will demands be like in 2050? Will relationships be completely virtual, for example? Your ideas will form the foundation for our reflections.»

A scenario as realistic as it is rich

So, what kinds of human interactions will be taking place in 2050? Seven teams worked on this topic. Ideas flew thick and fast between realism and utopianism: from electric planes, individual carbon emission quotas and a rise in long-distance trains to the return of the Zeppelin and a reduction in freedoms. In the end, the winner of the challenge was the « aRéogare » project (a play on «air terminal»), carried out by five students.

«aRéogare was selected because it is a rich, realistic scenario», explained Gaël Poget, Representative for Aeronautical Affairs at Genève Aéroport, member of the jury and Climathon expert. «The notion of time is completely integrated into this project, which has managed to remain realistic while highlighting futuristic technological advances. The jury really felt immersed in what Geneva’s airport will be like in 2050», he stated.
The project narrative takes the form of a 6-minute podcast in which a journalist interviews Genève Aéroport’s users in 2050. Switzerland has become an exemplary figure in sustainable transport: flights within the continent are prohibited and the country has a limited carbon budget.

«24 hours to imagine the airport of tomorrow is a really difficult challenge! But it’s a very stimulating format», explains Victor Rey, student at EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne) and member of the winning team. «We put ourselves in a more restrictive legislative context, with restrictions on flights within the continent and a more advanced multimodal platform.» With all five students involved with associations for sustainable development, the team seized the opportunity of Climathon to put their beliefs into practice. «The nature of the climate challenge is such that every individual has to be a part of the major change that we need. We must act now, even if we won’t feel the impact of our efforts until later», adds Mathilde Metrailler, a member of the winning team. Genève Aéroport is so enthusiastic about «aRéogare», it has already invited the students to come and present their project in person.

The end of Climathon 2020 event saw the launch of the French version of the Swiss2291 book. This collection of short stories imagines the Switzerland of the future, on its 1,000th anniversary. Thirty-nine figures, including André Schneider, General Manager of Genève Aéroport, contributed short stories to inspire rich visions of the world of tomorrow.

Stories put forward by participants:
Transport - challenge put forward by Genève Aéroport: «Imagining human interactions between continents in 2050»
Education - challenge put forward by the University of Geneva: «Developing new approaches for hybrid online and in-person events»
Energy - challenge put forward by the Federal Office of Energy: «Smart meter data: opportunities, incentives and added value»