How it works

In September 2015, world leaders committed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, by the year 2030. The Goals address a range of global challenges including poverty, gender inequality, disease, climate change, and social injustice.


One way is to provide data to verify progress towards the goals at a local, regional, or global level.

#Open17 is a challenge-based, online interactive coaching programme that supports and rewards teams developing innovative and implementable solutions for the SDGs. It encourages grassroots public participation and citizen science through the use of open data and crowdsourcing.


The teams work in close collaboration with international experts to make sure that the projects are concrete, achievable and relevant to the SDGs, whether at a local, regional or global level. Other stakeholders may contribute, from both the public and private sectors, civil society and academia.

As of 2020,  #Open17 has focused on challenges proposed by Crowd4SDG, a three-year Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action aiming to promote citizen science projects tackling the SDGs and focusing on climate action.


The #Open17 coaching runs over a six weeks period, and consists of 6 online sessions of 2h each, featuring:

  • Expert presentations
  • Team presentations
  • Mentor coaching
  • Peer-to-peer feedback

Between sessions the teams complete homework and may have one-on-one coaching calls. The goal of the coaching is to provide participants with CONTEXT about the challenge and existing TOOLS necessary to transform good ideas into viable projects.

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria for your idea are Novelty, Relevance and Feasibility, as well as whether Crowdsourcing is involved.

  • Novelty – your idea should be about your own idea. Describe a specific challenge you want to solve, rather than general problems.
  • Relevance – your idea should deal with issues clearly related to the challenges.
  • Feasibility – Be ambitious, but stay realistic: your idea should be something that, with some help, you could actually achieve.
  • Crowdsourcing – Explain how you will get people involved in helping you achieve your idea.

Don’t worry if you don’t meet all four criteria. Enthusiasm counts, too! Part of the #Open17 training is to help you improve your idea.

Who can Apply?

Unless  otherwise specified, challenges are open to high-school, undergraduate and Master students, ages 16-26. Applicants can be individuals or teams of up to four persons. Applications must be in English.

Benefits for all participants include a chance to:

  • Develop Skills : Learn how to set up crowdsourcing initiatives that tackle global challenges collectively.
  • Gain Experience : Coaching by mentors from the United Nations and top European research labs.
  • Network Globally : Work with a team of highly motivated peers from around the world.