Climathon Suzhou 2023: Tackle Climate Change from the Ground Up

December 02, 2023

On December 2 December, the RCE Suzhou at IBSS hosted the Seventh Annual Climathon Suzhou. The RCE Suzhou (Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development) rallied participants from diverse backgrounds to work together on creative solutions to refuse, rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle single-use plastics. In a collaborative effort to address climate change at its roots, there were approximately 60 participants from 7 different institutions who attended the event. With an inspiring motto of "Tackle Climate Change from the Ground Up," the event was a beacon of innovative solutions and collective action.

Dr. Ellen Touchstone

The day kicked off with insightful presentations by dynamic speakers like Dr. Ellen Touchstone, President of the RCE Suzhou at IBSS, Ms. Charlotte Penny from Dulwich College, and Ms. Huan Ni from Green Light Year, a member organization of the RCE Suzhou and Dr. Paola Pellegrini from the XJTLU Design School’s Department of Urban Planning and Design. They shared their expertise and vision for a sustainable future. Attendees were treated to a wealth of knowledge and inspiration, setting the stage for fruitful discussions afterwards, particularly addressing the problem of single-use plastics.

Ms. Charlotte Penny

Following a low-carbon lunch served using reusable silverware and plates, participants delved into group work sessions, brainstorming and exchanging ideas aimed at tackling the pressing issue of single-use plastics. The collaborative efforts fostered an atmosphere teeming with creative energy and a shared commitment to finding viable solutions to climate change.

As the day unfolded, anticipation mounted for the group presentation competition. Each team showcased their innovative proposals, showcasing a diverse array of strategies and approaches. A distinguished panel of judges meticulously evaluated the presentations, scoring them based on the criteria of connection to the challenge, local relevance, team, transformative potential, and development potential.

After cautiously computing the scores, Dr. Eunkyung Lee, the host of the competition and award sessions, revealed the top three outstanding groups as the winners of Climathon Suzhou 2023. These winning teams stood out for their innovative ideas and actionable plans, reflecting the spirit of collective determination to be change makers shaping a sustainable tomorrow.

The first prize went to the team of Jinrong Teng, a Year-1 student of XJTLU, XJTLU Oikos member, Maya (Callista) Brusson and Anamika Prasad from UWC Changshu. They proposed using a sustainable material, bamboo, to package products for shipping in China with different parts of the bamboo plant used as packaging. They received three prizes as First Place winners, including Thermos bottles, mascot stuffed animals designed by IBSS SFT (Sustainable Future Talents) and PRME bags with cutlery made of bamboo fiber.

The second prize was awarded to the team who proposed a solution to the problem of the huge number of discarded yogurt cups with straws in institutional environments. Conceived by students from UWC Changshu China and XJTLU’s IBSS, the solution aimed at discarding the yogurt cups and straws separately and classifying them as reusable or non-reusable material. They also proposed ways to extend the life of yogurt cups such as using them for seedlings. The team was comprised of three students from UWC Changshu: Karolina Grigoryans, Leyan (Joseph) Zou, Halle Sophia Efia Gyapomaa Ofosu and three Year-3 students from the IBSS Sustainable Future Talents (SFT) student group : Yuetong Yang, Shiyu Shan and Yanning Qi. They received XJTLU mascots and PRME bags with bamboo fiber cutlery inside as prizes.

The third prize was awarded to the team who proposed an eco-friendly takeout system, encouraging customers and suppliers to use reusable packaging to reduce takeout waste in schools. The team was comprised of Marvelyne Margalena and Sator Proton Susanto, both Year-3 students from XJTLU’s Humanities and Social Sciences School and Liberata Chubwa and Maximilian Zane Alexandrov from UWC Changshu. They received sustainable bamboo toilet paper and PRME bags as prizes.

The groups’ solutions will be submitted to the Global Climathon organisation for judging at the global competition. Climathon Suzhou 2023 stood as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovative thinking in confronting the global climate crisis. As the event concluded, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose, armed with innovative solutions to make a meaningful difference to tackle climate change.

For more information about the RCE Suzhou, including how to become a member organisation, please contact the RCE Suzhou President, Ellen Touchstone at

December 02, 2023