The 2021 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students aims to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the challenges of crisis management.

The Geneva Challenge is a project funded by Swiss Ambassador Jenö Staehelin and supported by the late Kofi Annan, who was the contest’s high-patron. This international competition for master students aims to stimulate interdisciplinary problem solving and analysis. Open to teams of three to five students from all academic programmes and from anywhere in the world, the theme for the 2021 contest is “The Challenges of Crisis Management”.

Currently, as the world faces unparalleled levels of challenges, there seems to be no end to the many crises that permeate borders, such as, world hunger, poverty, conflict, climate shocks, migration, unemployment and more recently the pandemic, we are currently facing. Recovering from the pandemic and the myriad of interconnected crises should involve addressing them in ways that call for a transformative change, reduce risks from future crises, attempt to close the inequalities gap and reinvigorate the implementation efforts to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. Overall, crisis management concerns a multitude of groups and has a strategic impact on human development, productivity, economic growth and long-run development of countries and regions around the world. Therefore, a call for innovative and crosscutting proposals accounting for the context and the multitude of potential actors involved is critical.

For the Geneva Challenge 2020, 366 teams composed of 1,368 graduate students from 102 different countries registered to take part. Building on this success, we invite students and their teams from around the world.

The Contest

Eager to stimulate reflection and innovation on development from diverse disciplinary and contextual perspectives and with the generous support of Ambassador Jenö Staehelin, the Graduate Institute has launched in 2014 the Advancing Development Goals Contest, an international competition for Master students.

The idea is to gather contributions that are both theoretically grounded and offer pragmatic solutions to a relevant international development problem stemming from an interdisciplinary collaboration between three to five enrolled master students from anywhere in the world.

Five prizes will be distributed; one in each of the following categories (based on the UN Statistics list):

  • Universities located in Africa
  • Universities located in Asia
  • Universities located in Europe
  • Universities located in North America and Oceania
  • Universities located in South America


  • Five finalist teams, one per continent, will be invited (complying with COVID-19 restrictions; travel and accommodation expenses covered) to give an oral presentation of their projects before a panel of high-level experts at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. The winning project will be awarded CHF 10,000, the two teams in second place will receive CHF 5,000 and the two teams in third place, CHF 2,500.

Method of Application

The registration deadline is simply the date by which we need you to fill in the application form and send us your proof of enrolment, confirming your status as a master student.

  • The confirmation documents (enrolment certificates or student cards) should contain your name, your graduate programme and a recent issuance date.
  • In case you do not have these documents at the time of your registration, please send them to this email address (geneva.challenge@graduateinstitute.chbefore the deadline of 22 March 2021.

Following the registration, you have four months to prepare you proposal, which is due by the submission deadline. Your project must be sent by email to: before midnight 12 am (Central Europe Time), on 12 July 2021.

Application Deadline:  July 21st 2021

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage