Water4Future Hackathon: solutions that flow from the source

One hundred and forty high school students from three continents took part in the Water4Future Hackathon on March 18, 19 and 21. Organized by the Unesco Icireward international center and the University of Montpellier, the theme of this fifth edition was "Water, crises and resilience". The Lycée français international Samuel Beckett in Ireland took top spot on the podium, while the Madelaine Daniélou school group in Côte d'Ivoire and the Lycée Jules Guesde in Montpellier were the favorites of this 2024 edition.

Gabriel Fradin- Superkut

What if it were possible to take inspiration from a beetle living in the desert to capture fog and transform it into drinking water; to sell or buy reprocessed wastewater at competitive prices on a new second-hand water market platform; or to directly treat the river water of a village in Côte d'Ivoire so that its inhabitants don't have to systematically boil it? These three ideas don't come from a science-fiction film, but from the well-trained brains of the high-school students who won the fifth Water4Future Hackathon.

48h chrono

A total of 140 people lined up to take up the challenge from their establishments in Europe (Montpellier, Castelnau-le-Lez, Perpignan, Marseille, Île de la Réunion, Germany, Ireland), Africa (Morocco, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire), North America (USA) and South America (Bolivia). Their mission? To come up with sustainable technical, regulatory and/or social solutions to local and international water issues in just 48 hours. Difficult access to drinking water, early droughts, water restrictions, extreme high water levels, floods... The issue of water is now crucial on every continent and represents a major challenge today and for generations to come.

To meet this challenge, the high school students worked simultaneously, either face-to-face or by video, to come up with innovative projects. Throughout the process, the teams were supported by professionals and experts in the field. At the end of the 48 hours, the students presented their solutions to a panel of judges, who came to reward the best projects.

Six awards

First prize went to the Lycée Français International Samuel Beckett in Ireland for its beetle-inspired project. Second prize went to Berlin's Lycée Français Französisches Gymnasium, which came up with a solidarity-based application for requesting or offering help in the event of flooding. La cité scolaire Françoise Combes, in France, also came up with a solution to flooding: small polymer beads capable of absorbing water and releasing it within two weeks. They were awarded third prize. Finally, the two "Coup de Coeur" prizes were awarded to the Lycée Jules Guesde in Montpellier for its second-hand water market platform, and to the Madelaine Daniélou school group in Côte d'Ivoire for its water treatment system directly connected to the river in a village in northern Côte d'Ivoire. See you next year, and let's hope the water continues to flow under the bridge.

The Unesco Icireward center

The UNESCO ICIREWARD (International center for interdisciplinary research on water systems dynamics), based in Montpellier, brings together and strengthens the collaboration of nearly 480 scientists and 180 PhD students in 17 research laboratories. The center's scientific community thus forms a rich multidisciplinary and international network to improve our understanding of water-related issues. Research focuses on hydrological, chemical and biological sciences, as well as social sciences, to provide comprehensive expertise on the challenges of water resources: availability, quality, sharing and extreme phenomena (floods, droughts). ICIREWARD works throughout the year with schoolchildren, high school students and the general public (Water4Future program, PLOUF, Friday March 29 - awareness-raising workshops for schoolchildren as part of World Water Day 2024).