German Climathon brings citizens together to develop solutions to local climate issues

As a pilot project under the framework of, the Wuppertal Institute helped to organise Climathon Wuppertal, a  community-based participatory research event that took place on 26 October 2018. Climathon is a global movement dedicated to solving city climate challenges. Originally conceptualised as a 24- hour hackathon by Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action and providing cities with support on the unique challenges they are facing.

Discussion during the Climathon Wuppertal 2018

The event was organised and hosted by Neue Effizienz (a local Non-Profit Organisation), the University of Wuppertal (Bergische Universität Wuppertal), Climate KIC (EU climate innovation initiative) and the Wuppertal Institute. This combined effort also supported the development of a broad network of collaborators to establish a Science Shop in Wuppertal as part of the project.

During the Climathon, seven teams spent 24 hours together developing solutions to local climate issues.  One idea was for a Heavy Rain Kit in response to massive damage caused by heavy rain in May 2018 in Wuppertal, when the roof of a university building collapsed and streets and basements were flooded. As a consequence of climate change, heavy rain and flooding is becoming more frequent in many parts of the world, including Germany. Even after the heavy rain in 2018, many citizens in Wuppertal remained unaware of the importance of preventing damage caused by heavy rain events. Interviews with citizens of Wuppertal, conducted during the Climathon, indicated that people were reluctant to draw conclusions from this negative experience.

The "Heavy Rain Kit"

Based on these findings, the project team sought to create a positive learning experience by connecting physically-perceived impressions with easily accessible information about heavy rain. Through this combined approach, the team wants to empower citizens to engage in climate adaption and prevention actions. The Heavy Rain Kit has since been submitted to the POWER Idea Contest for Sustainable Communities.

 To support the further development of ideas generated at the Climathon, Wuppertal Institute has since organised three follow up events, helping to moderate co-creation workshops, coordinate work packages, co-design the Heavy Rain Kit and introduced scientific tools, such as the WI`s ecological rucksack calculator.

Wuppertal Science Shop, known as WiLaWu, is now continuing to further develop its local community network to develop new projects.