Ideas for Action 2017 Competition: Join the Global Development Conversation
January 23-February 28, 2017Online

The World Bank Africa Region is encouraging African students and young professionals to participate in the annual Ideas for Action global competition, and share their ideas for financing and implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The world’s youth will be responsible for implementing the 2030 Development Agenda, a new, global development framework anchored by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which cover economic, social development and environmental protection.

For Africa in particular, it is an opportunity to create partnerships across the SDGs, which are in line with the Common African Position post-2015 Development Agenda. Based on the consensus between African leaders, civil society and the private sector, the Position highlights the common challenges, priorities and aspirations of African countries. To realize this shared vision, an ambitious financing and implementation plan is needed.

To that end, the World Bank Group is inviting young Africans to join the global development conversation by participating to the Ideas for Action contest (I4A). This initiative is a partnership between the team of the Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, UN Relations and Partnerships at the World Bank Group, and the Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania). 

The annual competition aims to encourage students and young professionals to share their ideas for financing and implementing the UN’s SDGs. Teams are invited to submit their projects proposals by February 28, 2017. Winners will be announced by May 31, 2017.


Students and young professionals between the ages of 18-35 years from around the world are invited to participate. They can be university students (business schools, but other faculties are welcomed, i.e. public administration, science and engineering schools), young professionals, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives, etc.

Team Registration

Teams must consist of two to six members and may be formed across different schools, institutions, companies, countries, nationalities etc. Please register your teams prior to submitting your proposal. You will then receive all relevant updates regarding the competition and our upcoming events.

Young Adults (18-35 years of age) Register Now

Proposal Criteria

There are no specific priority sectors. However, each proposal should be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. There is also value in linking the proposed solution to a sector which is deemed to be a priority in the given country it is being proposed for. This will enhance the points awarded to the proposal in the “significance of impact” criterion.

Proposals can be written either in English or French. While the system can regrettably not be changed anymore for this year’s competition to include other languages, the team will study the feasibility of receiving proposals written in Portuguese in the future. Teams from Lusophone countries should kindly submit their proposals in English or French.

Non-Mandatory Executive Summaries

As a non-mandatory option, please note that teams will NOT be penalized for not submitting an executive summary. Full proposals are due by the February 28, 2017 deadline. 

General Template

Your proposal should include the following:

  1. Title and team name
  2. Short Abstract (200 words)
  3. Explanation of problem and context (200-400 words)
  4. Explanation of your solution (700-1,400 words)
    1. Why is it relevant?
    2. What is new about it?
    3. By who, what, how and when would it be implemented?
    4. What is the expected impact?
  5. Are there similar examples? If so, where and how? Please elaborate. (150-300 words)
  6. What are challenges you might face and how can they be addressed? (200-400 words)
  7. Any additional relevant information.

Submissions will be evaluated according to how well teams demonstrate the following four attributes:

  • Significance: Teams should explain with specificity and going into some level of depth, why the solution is significant, e.g. on account of impacting a large number of people and/or businesses and nations.
  • Originality and creativity: Teams should present a solution that is original and creative; submissions should present ideas that are partially or fully underdeveloped in international development research and literature.
  • Feasibility: Teams should include a brief ‘roadmap to adoption’ that argues for the feasibility of the proposed solution and addresses any obvious roadblocks; all submissions should be actionable and measurable; results should be based in practicality rather than theory. Teams are encouraged to tie their submissions to a particular country or sub-region of the continent
  • Clarity: Teams should present their ideas in a clear and concise manner.

The winning team is provided the opportunity and platform to discuss their proposals with top practitioners in the field and will receive guidance on how to refine them. Relationships and lines of communication will be built with practitioners and may lead to collaboration and close partnership with experts in the field.

The first, second, and third best proposals from the global competition will be invited to participate in the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings October 9 – 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C., and will share their ideas in a high-level event. They will also have the unique opportunity to establish contacts and form networks within the World Bank and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School to further develop and discuss their ideas.

In addition to the participation of the top three teams in the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the World Bank Africa Region will invite representatives from two African teams, one from an English-speaking country, and one from a French-speaking country. 

  • Deadline: February 28, 2017
  • Eligibility: Students and young professionals in teams of members between the ages of 18-35 years from around the world are invited participate.
  • TEAM REGISTRATION: Teams of two-to-six members must be registered at prior to submitting your proposal.
  • SUBMISSION: Proposals should be submitted directly to in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Please name your file “2017_Country_TeamName.”