Young people will inherit whatever is left of the environment when today’s generation of consumers, workers and leaders are long gone.

At best, they may inherit an environment even more beautiful than ours, defined by a world more in balance with nature. At worst, unchecked climate change could lead to a nightmare scenario of frequent storms, rising sea levels, droughts and instability. To support the drive towards the best possible scenario, it is important to encourage young leaders who want to act. And it is important that they are inspired to act both individually and collectively.

And so the World Economic Forum designed and launched a specific challenge, called ClimateSHAPE, to young leaders who are part of our Global Shapers Community. This Community is very diverse, with leaders in business, civil society, media, arts and culture, science and much more. The challenge was an invitation to share their vision of an ideal collective climate future and to submit ideas for projects or initiatives that could be implemented in their cities and that would make a contribution to this vision.

The Chennai Hub of the Global Shapers Community has been awarded the Grand Prize of a 50,000 CHF grant with their project “Kabadiwalla Connect”, an online platform that allows local waste pickers in India to collaborate with businesses and individuals to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. The impact of this initiative is expected to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions of those landfills targeted by 25%-40%, and the funding is expected to help scale up the project in other communities. In addition, a design collective will be developed that will allow for innovative products to be created by local waste pickers, known as “kabadiwallas”.

The other finalist Hubs will each receive 10,000 CHF that will be used for the same purpose. They include the Tunis Hub, Zurich Hub, Melbourne Hub, Paramaribo Hub, and Salvador de Bahia Hub. You can read more about their projects here.

These initiatives represent just a fraction of the entries: we received 60 submissions, representing teams of young leaders from 53 cities in 44 countries from across every world region, from North and South America to the Middle East and Africa and to Asia. The submissions represent a wide range of ideas: micro-credit and devices, low-carbon transport, low-carbon cities, urban-waste management, energy efficiency, energy conservation, clean-energy investment, awareness-building, food-waste reduction, reforestation, water treatment, public awareness, climate resilience and more.

Beyond the parameter of this competition, all of these entries are ideas that can be implemented in cities across the world. These young leaders will have the opportunity to join global efforts linked to climate action at meetings such as the UN Climate Summit and the UNFCCC COP in 2014 and 2015. They will come to the table with their own visions, but also inspired by the collective actions that they have taken in their own cities.

Author: Yemi Babington-Ashaye is Head of the Global Shapers Community at the World Economic Forum.

Image: A drop of water falls from a melting piece of ice on Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier near the city of El Calafate, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci