Climathon Stories

John Vidal: "I will be looking for the teams that have a desire and commitment to change"

John Vidal is one of this year’s Climathon Award judges.

EIT Climate-KIC

John Vidal is one of this year’s Climathon Award judges. As environment editor of the Guardian for more than 25 years, he has written extensively about the climate challenges cities are facing. He has explored cities’ sustainability, how they are changing, how they are growing and adopting new agendas, especially in developing countries. 

Ahead of the Climathon Awards, Climate-KIC caught up with John to discover how he’s dedicated his career to tackle the climate emergency and what he thinks are the most pressing issues facing cities today.


John Vidal, ex-environment editor, Guardian

Awareness of climate change has been growing around the world for many years. By writing about it continuously and disseminating the science, reporting on its effects and seeing how cities are trying to mitigate emissions and adapt to change, I hope we can make both governments and citizenry more aware and willing to act.

Cities across the globe are facing pressing issues as a result of climate change, but they vary. In the rich northm the challenge is to get people out of cars, onto public transport and to reduce their emissions and air pollution. Many cities are taking strong action, especially in Europe.

In less developed countries, the challenge is to reduce air pollution, provide clean water, adapt to floods and heatwaves. 

The best way that we can trigger innovation that can create holistic change is for cities to work together, to exchange information, to compare strategies and to act in unison.  

It is important for citizens and cities to work together to tackle these challenges because no one city has all the answers. It is only by working together that mayors and leaders will be able to identify the best ways to act. 

If no action is taken, then the challenges will mount, people will suffer, and parts of cities may become uninhabitable.

Cities, towns and regions can help their citizens to deliver these changes, making their cities a better place to live. But, to achieve this, citizens must be given a voice, mayors must be transparent and people must be kept informed. 

Whilst judging the Climathon Awards I will be looking for three things. First, I will be looking for the teams that have a desire and commitment to change. Without that nothing will happen. 

Then, I will be looking at the projects being proposed. Some are likely to be ambitious, others modest. Both can be valuable, because it is by learning from pilots that cities can best act.

Thirdly, I will want to see how many people are likely to benefit, and what overall effect on the climate, increasing heat and floods the proposals are likely to have.

About Climathon Awards

Run by Europe’s Largest public-private partnership, EIT Climate KIC in partnership with Crowther Lab, the Climathon Global Awards called for cities and citizens around the world to engage in climate action, to find new systems level solutions to tackle the worsening climate crisis. 

The most visionary innovators have been chosen to attend the Climathon Global Awards Ceremony on the 31st January in Paris during the ChangeNOW summit, where all finalists have the chance to win funding and expert support to make their ideas a reality.

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