We need to change the way we power our daily lives. Cities consume the majority of the energy supply, often powered by fossil fuels. Therefore cities and metropolitan areas offer a huge opportunity to transform the way we generate and use energy. We need creative solutions to get as much power from as little energy as possible, wasting as little as we can. That is why, together with Ikea Foundation, we are seeking design interventions that integrate renewable energy, energy saving and energy efficient approaches. Read more about the reasons behind this challenge.




In Amsterdam’s city centre, packed with monuments and protected buildings, there is little space for clean energy infrastructure. Solar panels and other visible interventions are not permitted on historic buildings. Other infrastructure necessary for the transition, such as electricity substations and transformers, are too big to fit in the narrow and dense urban plan.

Aesthetic concerns play a role in much of the wider metropolitan area, too. The IJmeer lake and on-land ‘buffer’ zones, are used for recreation or transport. Many feel that current visions of clean energy infrastructure development in these areas will make them less attractive or useful for other needs of urban dwellers.

There is not enough space on land nor water to meet the electricity demands for the future of the region through renewable sources. Experts call for an integrative spatial approach whereby clean energy demand is reconciled with other pressing urban needs, such as housing and preservation of cultural heritage and natural landscapes.



Every year, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture, transport and dispose of goods and the waste that these become. Decay of organic waste also emits methane, which contributes 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While it is possible for waste to be transformed into energy or resources, cities are struggling to effectively achieve this. Cities must think more wisely and creatively about how waste is produced, managed and transformed.


México City, an enormous sprawling city, has struggled with waste for many years. With the closure of its largest landfill, and new initiatives to promote recycling and waste-to-energy solutions, México City is now in a position to be an example for the region. But behaviours and mindsets still have a long way to go. And there is lots that design can do here. Building on political momentum, we are calling on designers to use their creative problem-solving skills to imagine new narratives, services, products, spaces and systems to encourage cleaner and greener waste handling behaviours across México City.


To submit your project you will need a What Design Can Do account. Do you already have a What Design Can Do account? Login here. (Last year Challenge participants can use their Climate Action Challenge account details to login.)


Fill in your profile data and upload a profile picture. Team members have to create their own profile before you can connect the members to the project


After logging on to the Challenge platform, you are ready to fill in the submission form and add all the necessary project information. 1 team member has to connect the other team members to the project.

Don’t want your project to be visible for the public yet? Set your project to private using the settings in the submission form. Don’t forget to change the private settings afterwards, so it will be visible for everyone.


As soon as submission is complete, your project needs to be reviewed by a WDCD moderator. The reason a project to not being approved is, when is missing profile or project information or if your idea is not relevant for the Challenge. You will receive a notification from the moderator as soon as your submission has been approved.


After approval you can adjust your project settings at any time during challenge deadline (until 15 November). If a problem occurs, please contact us at challenge@whatdesigncando.com

More: whatdesigncando.com


Total Prize: $114,197