2020 Climate Change Call for Code Global Challenge

Innovate with the latest technology to address energy sustainability, water sustainability, or disaster resiliency.
Winners Announced in October, 2020
$270,000 Prize Purse



Take on climate change

In a recent global IBM survey of more than 3,000 developers, first responders, and social activists, 79% of respondents agree that climate change is something that can be reduced or combated with technology.

Answer this Call to Code by innovating with the latest technology to address one of three topics related to climate change:

  1. Energy sustainability;
  2. Water sustainability; OR 
  3. Disaster resiliency. 

Winning solutions are deployed in communities that need the most help.

Why focus on climate change?

Simply put, climate change has the potential to impact every human, every industry and every living organism on the planet. It sounds extreme because it is. Exhaustive research has confirmed changing weather patterns, rapidly rising sea levels, and extreme weather events proliferating around the world.

9.8 Billion | By 2050, the global population will reach 9.8B people exerting further pressure on the earth's resources.

3-5 Degrees | By the year 2100, global temperatures could increase 3-5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit)


What is Call for Code?

Call for Code asks innovators to create practical, effective, and high-quality applications based on one or more IBM Cloud™ services (for  example, web, mobile, data, analytics, AI, IoT, or weather) that can have an immediate and lasting impact on humanitarian issues. Teams of  developers, data scientists, designers, business analysts, subject matter experts and more are challenged to build solutions to mitigate the  impact of COVID-19 and climate change. 

This year the competition will have two tracks. One track is for solutions that help halt and reverse the impact of climate change. The  second track is for solutions to mitigate the impact of global pandemics like COVID-19 on communities around the world. Winning  solutions are deployed in communities that need the most help.


Why is this important?

This trend will not change without action. IBM believes that technology can help reverse these trends and help communities address the impact in tangible ways. As the founding partner of the Call for Code Global Initiative, IBM aims to take this a step further.


Four easy steps to get involved

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1. Accept the challenge
Learn about the competition, see what you can win, and start coding with a free IBM Cloud account.
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2. Build with open tech
Learn how you can make the most of resources like code patterns, expert videos, and tutorials to build your idea.
Start coding
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3. Find your squad
Whether you need to find teammates, meet experts, ask questions, or share ideas - there’s a community for you.
Start networking
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4. Submit your idea
Tell us what you’ve built and how. Submit this with your Participation agreement for a chance to win $200,000. Deadline is July 31st, 2020.
Submit your solution



  Grand prize winner

  • $200,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation
  • Opportunity for mentorship and investment in the solution
  • Solution implementation support through Code and Response™

  First and second runner up

  • $25,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation

  Third and fourth runner up

  • $10,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation


Starter kits

Some developers know what they want to build for Call for Code, but for those who don't, there are starter kits. These quick-start guides help developers understand the scope of the problems and start building applications tied to easy-to-understand use cases in a matter of minutes. Click the titles below to learn more and access technical resources, data sets, and documents.

Water sustainability

Use this starter kit to understand how water can help fight climate change and jump start your solution with our expert-validated idea. 

What is the problem?

The global climate crisis is inextricably linked to water. Higher temperatures and more extreme weather events are projected to affect the availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows, and groundwater, and further deteriorate water quality. Low-income communities, already the most vulnerable to any threats to water supply, are likely to be the worst affected. Read the UN policy on climate change and water and understand how you can make a difference.

How can technology help?

Whether it's third-party open source projects or IBM Cloud services, technologies like data analytics, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and blockchain can help address global environmental challenges such as water quantity and quality. Using water more efficiently will reduce greenhouse gases from treatment systems. 

Energy Sustainability

Use this starter kit to understand the link between energy consumption and climate change, and jump-start your solution with the expert-validated idea below.

What is the problem?

As the population grows, so does the demand for energy. Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas have exacted an enormous toll on the environment — from air and water pollution to climate change. Investing in solar, wind, and thermal power, along with improving energy productivity and expanding infrastructure, are the keys to providing clean and more efficient energy. Read about the UN Sustainable Development Goal on affordable and clean energy.

How can technology help?

Technologies such as AI, IoT, and blockchain can help individuals, communities, and utility companies harness their data to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures. 

Disaster Resiliency

Use this starter kit to understand how technology can help our society become more resilient to disasters and kick-start your solution with this idea for an AI-based app that prepares communities for floods.

What is the problem?

Natural disasters kill an estimated 90,000 people and affect close to 160 million people worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization. Severe weather events in particular have increased in frequency and intensity over the past decade, and scientists believe climate change is a significant factor. In the last 20 years, flooding has been the most common disaster by far, accounting for 43% of all recorded events. Read the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to see how we make our communities safer and more resilient to disasters.

How can technology help?

Technology can help our society better prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Specific use cases include reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improving preparedness and early warning for adverse weather events that are gaining in frequency through climate change.




Technical Content Library: Dig into our best technical content across four key technology areas and start building your idea quickly and easily.


Winning solutions get deployed: Previous Winners

Project Owl

The Grand Prize winners of the inaugural 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge designed solar-powered mesh network devices that build connectivity where there is none. The team brought their devices in a field test to parts of Puerto Rico hit hardest by Hurricane Maria.

Read more 



The Grand Prize winners of the 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge beat out nearly 180,000 participants with their solution. The Barcelona-based team, which includes first responders, developed a Watson-based AI solution designed to monitor health and safety in firefighters, both long term and in real-time.

Read more 



Submissions will be judged equally across 4 primary criteria which evaluate whether the solution solves a real-world problem and uses technology effectively.

  1. Completeness and transferability: How fully has the idea been implemented? Can it achieve an impact in the field? Can it be transferred elsewhere?
  2. Effectiveness and efficiency: Does the solution address a high priority area? Does it achieve its goal effectively and efficiently? Can it scale?
  3. Design and usability: How good is the design, user experience, and ease of use of the solution? How quickly can it be put to use?
  4. Creativity and innovation: How unique was the approach to solving a long-standing or previously intractable problem?


  1. Submissions –
    Submissions must use one or more IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems. Use of sponsor or affiliate APIs and open source libraries is also encouraged.
  2. Team size –
    Teams of up to five (5) participants, each at least 18 years old, are allowed.
  3. Joining teams –
    A participant may not be part of multiple teams.
  4. Participation agreement –
    All team members must have accepted the 2020 Participation Agreement at the time they submit to be eligible.
  5. Application standards –
    Applications must be new and built for the 2020 competition, but they may use code that was open sourced and publicly available to all other participants as of February 26, 2020.
  6. Winners –
    Winning teams will be subject to a code review after submissions close


Items needed for submission

To enter your team’s code, its documentation, and team member information into the 2020 Call for Code competition, one member of your team will require the following information for the submission form.

  1. Submission name-
    Enter the name for your solution or team in about five words.
  2. Submission track-
    Select the track or tracks you want to submit to. You can submit the core application to both tracks, but you will have to submit it to each track independently, and the descriptions and other details should be tailored towards the specific track.
  3. Short description-
    Describe your team’s solution in about ten words.
  4. Long description-
    Write about 500 words, or around one page of text, that covers the solution in more detail. Please include the real-world problem you identified, describe the technology project you created, and explain why it’s better than any existing solution. You can supply additional documentation in your source code repository link below.
  5. Solution roadmap-
    Create a document or image that shows how mature your solution is today and how you would like to improve it in the future. This can include information on the business model, funding needs, and a sustainability plan.
  6. Link to publicly accessible GitHub repository-
    (or other location such as GitLab or Box) where the judges can download, examine, and evaluate the source code behind the solution. You can provide additional description and diagrams in the repository. Hint: Review the judging criteria and rules: 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.
  7. Link to a three-minute demo video-
    Record a demo of your project, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and share the URL. Three minutes is the maximum length. You can link to longer versions from your source code repository. Keep in mind that non-technical judges may rely on this more than technical documentation.
  8. List of one or more IBM Cloud Services or IBM Systems used in the solution-
    Join the Challenge Community to get an IBM Cloud account. Your application can use additional data sets, libraries, and externally-hosted services to complement the IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems.
  9. Your email address and the email addresses of up to four additional team members-
    Each team member needs to accept the Participation Agreement. You can only be part of one team of up to 5 members, and your team can only submit one application.

Additional details-
The team leader who submitted the solution will receive an email confirming the submission details. If you need to update or replace your submission, please create a new submission. The latest submission from the submitter email address before the July 31, 2020 deadline will be considered the final entry.