• 31 May 2018

Four graduate students to explore innovative solutions to Sustainable Development Goals at the UNLEASH Innovation Lab


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Four graduate students will represent the Environmental Change Institute at the 2018 UNLEASH global innovation lab held this week in Singapore, to explore new and innovative solutions to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Aria Laidlow, Sujay Natson, Kiron Neale and Theresa Reisch form part of the second cohort of 1,000 young talents amassing in Singapore from more than 100 countries. Over the four-day innovation challenge, the participants will be grouped into teams to explore specific SDG themes, define problems and propose new, innovative and disruptive solutions. The top five teams will present their solutions to investors, experts, peers and the public in the final two days, followed by a closing ceremony on 6th June, attended by local and international stakeholders, including the President of Singapore.

The UNLEASH lab was praised by Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. “We each have a valuable contribution to make to sustainable development. This gathering of young, creative and innovative minds will harness the power of human ingenuity, to create imaginative solutions that achieve the SDGs.” Oxford’s four representatives were chosen from nominations put forward by the ECI as a new talent partner for this year’s programme.

Current ECM student, Aria Laidlow, a national of a Small Island Developing State, was selected to UNLEASH to focus on Goal 13 – to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. She hopes to use her research to identify opportunities to transition tourism into a resilient tool in order to ensure sustainable pathways.

"I’m so excited to be taking part in UNLEASH and for the opportunity to work with other incredible minds. I will get to learn from others in places where the implementation of the SDGs has been successful or where lessons were learned from previous failures."

ECM student Sujay Natson is also committed to climate action and will focus on Goal 13 at the UNLEASH lab.

"The world’s governments have a responsibility to work together to take action on mitigating climate change and helping the most vulnerable communities adapt to it, to which I hope I can contribute policy and innovative solutions.”

Our third candidate is Theresa Reisch, a current ECM student with a passion for exploring the potential for new zero-carbon cities. Theresa intends to use UNLEASH to explore the vast emission reduction potential of smart cities and smart homes while still providing inhabitants with clear choices around their data privacy.

“We as the new generation of climate action leaders need to learn how to constantly zoom back in and out between globally coordinated mitigation agendas and locally specific intervention.”

Kiron Neal is a recent alumnus from our ECM programme and a current doctoral student. He has been selected to UNLEASH to explore SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. Drawing on his doctoral studies, Kiron wants to explore the potential for mainstreaming distributed residential solar energy technologies in Small Island Developing States.

He sees UNLEASH as an opportunity to advocate and advance the SDG agenda among his peers and wider network. “Being part of UNLEASH 2018 will mark the culmination of my time, energy and efforts researching islands and energy at Oxford University and is a formative chance for me to share my expertise – and I can likewise learn from others wishing to share theirs. As a national hailing from a small island, such a prestigious forum is a chance for me to represent this background and add to the diversity of perspectives that UNLEASH brings together.”


The world’s governments have a responsibility to work together to take action on mitigating climate change and helping the most vulnerable communities adapt to it, to which I hope I can contribute policy and innovative solutions." Sujay Natsun

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