Climate Education project “GALE” wins the Global Leadership Challenge 2021

100 young leaders from over 30 countries collaborated to create impact projects addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GLC winner

Between 9th-15th December, the Global Leadership Challenge (GLC) convened 100 young leaders from over 30 countries in a hybrid conference advancing responsible leadership that makes a difference in the world —leadership that doesn’t simply seek to fulfil personal ambition but furthers societies’ sustainable development. The participants were tasked with creating impact projects focused on one of four Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health and Well-Being (SDG3), Quality Education (SD4), Gender Equality (SDG5) and Climate Action (SDG13). During a live-streamed Closing Ceremony, three finalist teams pitched their projects to the judging panel, highlighting how their idea could help to promote responsible leadership. A team of students from the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge won the challenge for their Climate Education project titled Global Access for Learning about the Environment (GALE), which uses WhatsApp to make Climate Education accessible to those most affected by it.

The winning team members were Ben James (University of Cambridge - Master of Engineering), Ruby-Anne Birin (University of Oxford - DPhil Archaeological Science), Arrey Bate (ARREYB Media – Founder) and Duong Vu (University of Oxford - MPhil in Development Studies). In his final pitch, Ben James, who founded the Cambridge Climate Society, emphasised that “The most adverse effects of climate change have fallen on those who are least educated about it”. Their project aimed to meet the needs of local communities and empower them with the knowledge “to engage, explore and develop their own solutions to local problems”.

The two other finalist teams were Medorum – A Medical Knowledge Transfer Platform enabling HCP in developing countries to access relevant knowledge and “Become a Wife for a Day” – an idea recognising the consequences of unpaid domestic care work and promoting a new social narrative in African countries. All three teams integrated the theme of GLC 2021 – "Power of Purpose'' in their projects, carefully considering their aim, audience and impact in the local communities. The winning team members will be participating in the 51st St. Gallen Symposium in May 2022 as Leaders of Tomorrow and all three teams will receive an exclusive mentorship opportunity offered by the Oxford Character Project.

The Jury Members were Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Associate Head (Doctoral and Research Training) of the Social Science Division, at the University of Oxford, Kim Polman, Co-Founder and Chair of Reboot the Future, and Amanda Shantz, Professor of Management and MBA Director at the University of St.Gallen. Prof Alexander Betts reflected on the value of the GLC: “Universities should be measured by their ability to put the greatest minds at the service of humanity and the GLC I think encapsulates that idea. People who have skills and talents from across the world, who have the privilege of university education can do more than just stay within academia. They can reach out, work together, collaborate and have an impact on some of the defining challenges of this time.”

Kim Polman added: “I hope that all of the participants have enjoyed working on their projects and especially learning about the SDG’s and how important they are to embed in your work. We will definitely have a changed world if such intelligent and ambitious people as you embrace them in your work going forward.”

The winning team was praised for leveraging the diversity of the group to come up with an impactful project and generate local solutions to global problems. This project was particularly innovative for empowering local people to contextualise knowledge and create bespoke solutions for their own communities.

“The GLC is an incredible event that brings together young, incredibly intelligent people and throws them together in a week and gets them to think together, learn together and implement together,” said Prof Amanda Shantz. In her final remarks, she said, “A really important part about leadership, something that we often forget when we're educators, professors or students, is that leadership is really about the action so I love all of the plans that I've heard today.”

The Global Leadership Challenge is an annual conference jointly organised by the University of Oxford (Social Sciences Division and the Oxford Character Project) and the St. Gallen Symposium, supported by the Lemann Foundation and the Templeton World Charity Foundation. To learn more about the GLC, please visit