Green Urban Development School announces green startup winners, empowering Pakistani Youth to drive sustainable solutions

To inspire green actions and drive sustainable growth in Pakistan, the Green Urban Development School (GUDS) announced grants and mentorship for two impactful action research projects by the students of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad.

Hosted by the Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and the School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF), with support from the U.S. Embassy Islamabad, the GUDS pilot program was launched at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) and COMSATS University Islamabad. The shared goal of these organizations is to promote sustainable and green urban development and youth-led green initiatives.

The program, aimed at leveraging youth potential for sustainable cities, provided participants with invaluable mentorship, exposure visits, and cross-learning opportunities, empowering them to spearhead a transition towards a more sustainable future.

Winning Projects

The GUDS participants submitted four innovative solutions, focusing on urban water management, solid waste management, and green infrastructure after receiving 2 months of capacity-building training.

Following a rigorous evaluation process, two projects were selected for grant awards of PKR 500,000 each. The chosen projects focus on green infrastructure and water conservation.

The winning participants will have access to mentorship, exposure visits and cross-learning opportunities with experts from DePaul University, Chicago, in the United States. The GUDS is also providing technical and financial support to two students from each university, QAU and COMSATS, to set up action research projects leading to green startups.

Out of the two winning startups, the project demonstrating greater scalability potential after two months will receive additional technical and financial backing to refine its business case. The ultimate winner will be eligible for further stipends to advance their research and transform their concept into a viable business venture.

Since its inception at QAU in 2023, the GUDS program has already seen the fruition of two grant-winning projects: a composting facility and a sustainable rooftop setup integrating rainwater harvesting and a hydroponic farm. These projects reflect GUDS’s mission to empower youth and drive sustainable change in Pakistani cities.

Marfaa Naseem, a GUDS grant recipient from QAU, shared her success story and the transformative impact of the program. Since installing a rainwater harvesting system in January 2024, Marfaa has harvested an impressive 48,000 liters of rainwater, resulting in substantial savings (around PKR 12,000) compared to tanker fees.

Additionally, Marfaa utilized grant funds and established a hydroponic farm on her rooftop in Ghouri Town, where she now cultivates approximately 230 plants in a limited area. Her endeavors not only demonstrate the tangible benefits of sustainable practices but also underscore the pivotal role of GUDS in fostering innovative solutions to urban environmental challenges.

Leveraging Youth’s Potential for Sustainable Cities

The winners were announced on April 30 in Islamabad at an event titled ‘Rethinking Urban Development in Pakistan: Leveraging Youth’s Potential for Sustainable Cities’. Experts at the event highlighted the pivotal role of innovative models like the Green Urban Development School (GUDS) in equipping youth with the necessary skills to manage urbanization in an environmentally friendly and climate-resilient manner.

At the concluding event of GUDS, Kelly Ryan, representative of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, emphasized the importance of programs like GUDS in facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration to collectively address climate change challenges.

Dr. Ejaz Ahmad, Senior Program Fellow at the Islamabad-based Institute of Urbanism, highlighted the need to reshape urban development paradigms through strategic partnerships, collaborative efforts, and equitable transitions.

Green Urban Development School
A group photo of participants and members of the Institute of Urbanism (IoU), School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF), Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), U.S. Embassy and COMSATS University Islamabad at the Green Urban Development School event on April 30, 2024. (Image Credit: Institute of Urbanism)

Dr. Jabir Hussain Syed, Associate Professor at COMSATS, praised GUDS for providing students a platform to channel their creative thinking into designing innovative solutions for urban environmental issues.

Mariyam Irfan, Managing Director of SoLF, praised GUDS as a pivotal initiative in promoting sustainable urbanization in Pakistan. “By nurturing the green skills of our youth and empowering them to implement innovative solutions, we are not only addressing immediate environmental challenges but also shaping the leaders of tomorrow who will drive lasting change,” she said.

Sana Jamal
Storyteller. Avid Reader. Learner to the core.

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