The Packard Foundation wanted to investigate the impact prizes could have on climate change efforts.
Context Partners developed 20 strategic prize concepts aimed at providing multi-faceted solutions in four thematic areas: policy, technology, commerce and culture.
“HOW DO YOU SOLVE THE HARDEST, MOST DIFFICULT CONUNDRUM? THE ONLY REAL SOLUTION IS TO INNOVATE, TO DO SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY AND CREATIVE.”
There is a growing need for new and innovative strategies to combat climate change, the most significant problem facing the world today. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, one of the largest funders of climate change initiatives, asked Context Partners to explore the possibility of prizes as critical tools to arrest climate change.
Context Partners’ deep experience in this field suggests that prizes and competitions are key problem-solving strategies for large complex problems because of their adaptability and potential to catalyze networks. These networks can fundamentally change who participates in solving problems— shifting the focus beyond traditional, known players to outliers—and thereby increasing the likelihood that a solution will be found. In order to explore the climate context, we spoke with a diverse group of people around the globe including scientists, technologists, academics, policymakers and creatives to better understand where prizes could be effective in mitigating climate change.
The mandate in this process was to develop 20 strategic prize concepts that addressed aspects of climate change ranging from specific technology innovations to the cultural narrative.
The curated concepts were divided into four key thematic areas—policy, technology, commerce, and culture— providing a broad framework for the greatest possible impact to unleash new strategies.
Policy projects focus on wide-scale change on the government and municipal level; Technology aims to tackle barriers to innovation and the development of new technologies; and Commerce incentivizes change within the commercial and business sector. For their part, the Culture prizes move the climate conversation into a new direction by influencing how people can change their behavior and conceptualize the future. Instead of conjuring apocalyptic scenarios depicting the devastating impacts of climate change, the Exciting Futures prize is designed to impact the climate narrative by asking people to create a YouTube video imagining a future where climate mitigation was successful – and make it so exciting that the video is the first to attract 100 million views.