The first environmental hackathon in Montenegro – Climathon Podgorica 2020 Is Not a Throwaway – was held on the last weekend of November. The competition was organized online, through the Zoom platform for participants, jury and mentors, while the interested public was able to follow the program live via social networks. The event organized by the NGO Gnijezdo (i.e. Nest), under the auspices of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro and in cooperation with the Ministry of Science, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Telenor, the Capital City of Podgorica, the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, Erste Bank, the Petrović Njegoš Foundation, Cosmetics Market drugstores and Red Bull.

43 teams applied for the competition, 10 of which passed the initial selection procedure and participated in Climathon this weekend, when the three best ideas were selected. The first place and the award in the amount of three thousand euros was won by the two-member team “Composter”, composed of Boris Radunović and Matija Mitrović, for their idea of a establishing company that would take organic waste, primarily from restaurants operating in the Capital City of Podgorica, and turn it into quality fertilizer. The second place and two thousand euros was won by the “Buttmade” team, whose members are Neven and Dušan Keković and Miljan Bigović, who proposed the idea for separate collection and recycling of cigarette butts, and then later placing on the market plastic products produced by recycling them. The third-place winners, Ivan, Nikola and Ana Boskovic, from the “BioCycle” team, received a thousand euros award for implementing the idea of a city compost scheme as a non-profit organization, which would lead to networking of tenants within one building thanks to a joint compost.

In addition to cash prizes, the winning teams received an invitation to receive support and mentoring from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in further development and implementation of their ideas, as well as an invitation to participate in the next level of competition, through the Climathon Global Awards, a global competition and awards ceremony which will be held on January 21, 2021.

The organizers from the NGO Nest say that the event exceeded their expectations and that they are looking forward to monitoring the process of implementation of all submitted ideas, both awarded and others, which qualified for the finals of the competition.

“We are glad that through great project solutions we showed all participants that 2020 is not a throwaway and we hope that such an event is just the beginning of engaging our citizens to work on and solve climate problems in Montenegro in various creative ways, which reconcile making profit and sustainability advocacy. Our plan is for Climathon Podgorica to become our annual tradition, and to stay in touch with all teams eager to work, and to continuously expand the list thereof”, said the organizers.

The application procedure for participation in the competition was announced at the beginning of the month, and all residents of Montenegro aged 15 to 45, who wanted to form their own teams and deal with the environmental challenge that was the topic of the first Climathon Podgorica – waste, were able to apply. The teams that entered the finals of the competition, through intensive work perfected their environmentally responsible ideas, in order to better prepare them for placement on the Montenegrin market, either through business or non-profit channels. The competitive part of the program, held this weekend, was preceded by a preparatory training, held on November 21, where the finalists were introduced to the concept of Climathon, to the partners at the event, to the waste management problems in Montenegro and its obligations to the international community in regard to this area.

So far, Climathon has been organized on six continents, in 56 countries and 145 cities. It was launched in 2015 by Climate KIC, the environmental branch of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), which is a body of the European Union, in order to enable representatives of local institutions and citizens to come together and jointly propose solutions to environmental challenges their communities are facing.