Helping mobilize communities around environmental issues is a challenge the world over. The Global Shapers Community, an initiative launched by the World Economic Forum, helps engage young leaders to lead positive change and use innovative approaches to tackle serious social issues in city-based Hubs around the globe.Coca-Cola is a founding partner of the Global Shapers Community.

Here we feature several inspiring Global Shaper initiatives to spotlight some of the inventive environmental work that is taking place. These projects were contenders in the Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge, a competition for the Global Shapers Community that awards acceleration funding to outstanding projects. 

Kabadiwalla Connect: Innovative Take on Urban Recycling


A scrap dealer in front of his store in Chennai, India.

In Indian cities, there is an informal waste ecosystem of scrap-dealers (kabadiwallas), itinerant buyers (raddiwallas) and waste-pickers who gather and sell recyclable materials. Kabadiwalla Connect, launched in 2014 by the Chennai Hub in India, is a social enterprise startup dedicated to helping local communities handle their recyclable and upcyclable waste responsibly. They are doing this by focusing on this informal recycling network and working to not only legitimize it – but to improve it for everyone involved.

“Everyday, Chennai generates around 4,500 tons of waste which is dumped in landfills, and this statistic is set to exponentially grow over the years. The informal waste sector performs a vital service by keeping waste out of the landfill, and sending it to be recycled instead," explains Siddharth Hande, Founder and Research Lead of Kabadiwalla Connect and a Global Shaper from the Chennai Hub.

The group is doing this, explains Hande, by running campaigns aimed at legitimizing the informal waste community and celebrating their contribution to waste management. The goal is then to find ways, through technology, to send more recyclable and upcyclable material into the local scrap-dealer network and increase their revenue, and track how much material is being recycled at a neighborhood level. Eventually, Kabadiwalla Connect hopes to identify how this informal waste ecosystem can connect to the more formal ways Indian cities handle their waste. They also want to create a design collective that drives research and innovation in the repurposing of materials commonly found in the informal waste ecosystem and turn this waste into products or materials that have value.

Recent efforts: In April 2015, the group launched an Instagram campaign called#InvisibleRecyclers aimed at making informal waste networks more visible to the public. A team of volunteers took 350 photos of these informal waste workers and uploaded the images to Instagram and the Kabadiwalla Connect website in order to create a visual archive of the work they are doing and get a sense of how they function. They are looking to take this campaign to other cities in India, and hopefully around the world.

Learn more by going to the Kabadiwalla Connect website


#SeeingBlue: Spotlighting the State of the Ocean

Launched in 2014 in Mauritius as a joint venture of the Port Louis Hub and the theSIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH), the goal of #SeeingBlue is to raise awareness about ocean health, create dialogue on the issues, and ignite initiatives on oceans, including dealing with marine debris.

#SeeingBlue began as a nation-wide competition for young people of Mauritius with the support of Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), ENL Foundation and Reef Conservation. Through the competition, contestants were asked to answer the question "How do I impact the ocean, how does the ocean impact me?" by submitting entries in any form they wished. They responded with art, essays, short stories, videos and even a song. The 10 winners each received free scuba dive initiations, an educational visit to the Nauticaz Marine Lab and were part of the first class of the Young Ocean Champions program.

Other projects have included mobilizing over 70 students of the Semester-at-Sea program for one-day beach clean up and education event. They also led a community workshop titled "Oceans: Our Passport to the Future” focused on giving the people who make a living out of the ocean a seat at the discussion table. This was complemented by having a one-on-one discussion with the fishermen community at the Mahebourg village of Mauritius to learn first-hand of the daily challenges and triumphs of people who make a living out of the sea, and gather insights from the fishermen community.

Recent efforts: One of the major outcomes of the workshop on oceans has been to create a platform that enables the fishermen community of the island to directly communicate with relevant authorities, as well as other key stakeholders. On an individual level, this program has created a greater affinity to the oceans for young people involved in the program, who were introduced to ocean exploring activities such as scuba diving. The 2015 projects include a second nationwide competition for youth — this time extending to neighboring islands such as Seychelles —  and to increase its advocacy among young people.

Learn more by going to #SeeingBlue website


G2H20: Helping People Conserve and Reuse Water

The goal of G2H20 is to tackle ground water pollution by giving grey water — which is water that has been gently used in sinks and showers — a second life. "Grey water can be reused to either sustain a kitchen garden or to simply reuse for secondary purposes like flushing and gardening," explains Tallulah D’Silva, who is Founding Curator of the Panjim Hub of the Global Shaper Community in Goa, India.

G2H20 which stands for "grey water to clean water" is a program that teaches people how to cleanse water by using a series of shallow plant beds in troughs to filter the water for reuse.

"We launched it in a few private homes more than a year ago," says D'Silva "with the intention to teach people to conserve water as well as use waste water as a resource to grow food. Goa is a coastal state and tourism is its economic driver. But over the last 40 years the coastal belt with numerous small and large hotels has grown from being pristine to crowded, polluted and saturated with issues like garbage, ground water pollution and contamination of fresh water wells with sewage. We believe we can empower local communities to take action and impact society in the most positive way."  

Recent efforts: G2H20 is promoting this filtering process to school children, teachers, ordinary citizens and institutions. "Showing students and members of the community how the system really works has had the most positive impact," explains D'Silva. "When they understand how the long term benefits will not only mitigate local issues of water pollution but also have a larger impact on sustainability, there is better understanding and students and teachers alike have rushed back to us for help in planning to set up a root zone grey water system for their school or college."

Learn more by going to the Global Shapers Pajim Hub website

You can also follow the work of the Global Shapers Community on Twitter or by going to