Tackling plastic pollution

Are you an undergraduate student? Do you want to help solve one of the world’s most challenging problems?
Apply for the Open Seventeen Challenge now

Application deadline: 27 October 2019

Accepted participants will receive confirmation latest 1 November 2019.
Online coaching starts on the week of 4 November (2hr/week for 5 weeks), date and time will be communicated to accepted participants.


Open Seventeen is a prize-backed challenge to reward and invest in those developing innovative and implementable projects that leverage OPEN DATA and CROWDSOURCING to tackle the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This fall, the challenge targets plastic pollution, and it is run in collaboration with UN Environment (UNEP).


All accepted participants receive intensive mentoring and coaching to help transform their ideas into impactful projects, and become part of a global community of civic innovators. On successful completion of the O17, they may be eligible for travel grants to Geneva (Switzerland) to attend international events such WSIS Forum 2020 and AI for Good.


The competition is open to undergraduate students from any field and region, who have a bold idea for how to tackle plastic pollution, and who are currently registered at a University. Students may sign up as individuals or as a team (max 5 persons).


Application Deadline is 27 October 2019. Online coaching will take place over six weekly 2-hour interactive sessions, in Nov-Dec 2019. Coaching will include guest experts from UniGe, NYU, and from international organizations (exact dates/times will be communicated to successful applicants).

The Challenge is co-organized by Citizen Cyberlab at University of Geneva, the Citizen Science Centre Zurich (University of Zurich and ETH Zurich), and the Governance Lab at New York University, with the support of the Geneva Tsinghua Initiative.

The Challenges


Plastic debris in water columns

How to evaluate the plastics of all shapes and sizes that end up in the water column as marine debris and threaten all sorts of life in water?


Action for costal plastic debris

Public awareness of plastic waste on shores is increasing, but how can we transform concern into concrete action?


Rivers to Oceans

Most of plastic polluting our oceans comes from rivers, how can we better measure it to help the fight against sea pollution?


Tracking plastic in food waste

Buying, maintaining, recycling, how big is the plastic footprint of our food consumption and habits?


Zero Waste and Circular Economy

How can we assess the impact of Zero Waste and Circular Economy inititaives on reducing plastic pollution?


Satellite, aerial and drone images

How can satellite, aerial, and drone images be used to improve current efforts to monitoring and identifying plastics pollution?

How it works

27 October 2019

Deadline for Application


In the application, you will briefly introduce yourself, your motivations, and pitch your idea. You can apply as individual or as a team (one application per team, max 5 persons).

Apply Here

Nov – Dec 2019



Selected participants will follow a 5 weeks long coaching developed by The GovLab at NYU, in collaboration with Citizen Cyberlab and the Citizen Science Center Zurich. The coaching sessions will start on the week of November 4, 2019. The coaching happens online, 2h per week, with mentors from academia and partnering International Organizations (dates/times will be communicated to successful applicants).

Dec 2019

Selected projects – Geneva events


Some projects and participants will be selected to participate in WSIS Forum 2020 and others in AI for Good. All travel costs and conference fees will be covered.

Make sure you check the Frequently Asked Questions for more details