How might we collaborate to preserve and restore biodiversity through solutions designed for agriculture, urban environments, and forests?

Life depends on biodiversity. Our air, water, and food rely on the variety of life found in ecosystems around the world. Because of human activity, however, one million plant and animal species are currently on verge of extinction. Humans have significantly altered 75% of the land-based environment.  

This year, the U.N. reported that “nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.” We are facing an existential threat.  

Yet it is not too late for change. We need to radically transform our relationship to our planet. As the environment rapidly declines, we need bold social innovators who are bringing people together to take on this extensive, complex, and urgent issue.  

How might we collaborate to preserve and restore biodiversity through solutions designed for agriculture, urban environments and forests?

We are looking for already-implemented solutions that engage people and organizations across sectors to preserve biodiversity. By building alliances and catalyzing collaboration between key players — such as citizens, the scientific community, companies and/or governments —we can scale innovations to address the enormous environmental challenge we face.  

VITTEL® and Ashoka are launching the "Act for Biodiversity" Challenge — a global search for changemakers who can bring key players together to preserve and restore biodiversity. 

Understanding the importance of biodiversity for preserving water quality, VITTEL® has been working for the last 30 years to preserve nature in the city of Vittel and surrounding Vosges area, in France. In partnership with INRA (National Institute of Agronomic Research), VITTEL® teams have engaged local stakeholders — including farmers, industries, policymakers, scientists, tourism agencies, and citizens — to put in place a zero-pesticides policy to protect the watershed, preserving the local ecosystem, leading reforestation efforts, preserving and restoring habitats of endangered species (to learn more, read our FAQ). Now VITTEL® is furthering its commitment by supporting social innovators worldwide who are teaming up to preserve biodiversity in their local ecosystems. 

Because biodiversity is a broad topic, we are narrowing our scope according to the 3 criteria below. We are seeking implemented innovations that:   

1. Use a systemic approach. If a project focuses on preserving a single species, it must address why preserving that species contributes to the overall health of its respective ecosystem and other species.   

2. Value collaborating with other key players. Preserving biodiversity requires solutions that integrate expertise and participation from stakeholders like farmers, scientists, policymakers, and the public. We are looking for innovators who have either built collaboration into their solution already or want to bring other players on board in the future.  

3. Align with one of the following FOCUS AREAS:   

A) Address the impacts of urbanization. Urban areas are now home to the majority of our planet’s population. We often overlook the variety of life found in cities — urban green spaces host native and non-native species critical to the earth’s health and human wellbeing. We're seeking solutions that strengthen biodiversity in the urban environment, such as strategies to implement green infrastructure or engage city residents in creative conservation efforts.  

B) Innovate agricultural systems. Agriculture is the largest contributor to the loss of biodiversity. Common agricultural practices — such as unsustainable monocultures, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and inefficient irrigation — hurt the vital ecosystem services, such as pollination, biological pest control, healthy soils and watersheds, that are essential to sustaining life. We're seeking solutions that are changing this narrative.  

C) Nurture and preserve forests. As the most diverse ecosystems on land, forests are not only home to trees and plants, but most of the world’s terrestrial species. Every year, we lose over 18 million hectares of forest, which is threatened by deforestation, degradation, hunting, and invasive species. We’re seeking solutions that protect and nurture the rich biodiversity found in forests.  


We're interested in all kinds of solutions to preserve biodiversity— from scientific innovations to community initiatives— as long as they fulfill the eligibility criteria and fit within the Challenge scope.   

For reference, check out these real-world examples:  

  • A scientific solution that boosts biodiversity by sustainably managing and monitoring bee populations, using this data to inform stakeholders like farmers, companies, and governments and to help local ecosystems thrive.  
  • An organization that connects young people in rapidly urbanizing areas with nature, educating students and communities and training them to care for urban nature reserves.  
  • A citizen association of professional women foresters who combine vegetable gardens and wild tree nurseries to protect biodiversity, reduce desertification, and ensure better health and nutrition for their communities. 

Entrants must:  

  • Be 18 years old or older by the time they apply 
  • Apply with a project that is already implemented beyond the idea stage (must have implemented at least a pilot) and thus be able to present at least initial evidence of impact  
  • Have incorporated as a nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or have a fiscal sponsor 
  • Be fluent in English and/or French (winners will be expected to engage in activities that require English or French proficiency)  

Additional terms  

  • Only one application per initiative will be accepted.  
  • Entries will only be accepted in English or French.   
  • Employees of VITTEL®, Nestlé S.A. and their parent companies, affiliates and subsidiaries, joint ventures, advertising agencies, promotion agencies and other service providers for this Challenge, their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling, regardless of where they reside) and those living in the same household are not eligible.  
  • Partners or initiatives that are already financed or supported by VITTEL® or Nestlé S.A., its affiliates, subsidiaries or joint ventures are not eligible. 

IMPACT.  Leading initiatives will demonstrate how they are making a positive social and/or environmental impact for biodiversity preservation in at least 1 of the 3 focus areas of the challenge (see the "SCOPE" section above for more details). Competitive applicants will be able to provide qualitative and quantitative metrics used to track progress. Initiatives should also describe the innovation’s potential impact on the future and how they are addressing the root cause of the problem.   


INNOVATION.  Leading initiatives will have an original approach, which might involve inventing something new or applying existing approaches in new ways or to a new context. We are particularly interested in models that use fresh approaches to spark mindset shifts that lead to widespread change.  

FINANCIAL & OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY.  Applicants must have realistic plans for how to continue creating impact in the long-term through mobilizing resources such as funding, financing, teams, partnerships, or support networks. Entries should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future.  

ACTIVATING CHANGEMAKERS.  The initiative's strategy should include an approach that empowers and multiplies changemakers through inspiring stories, mobilizing and sharing resources or other approach that leads to an increased number of changemakers in the world.  


GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL.  Leading initiatives should be feasible on a broad-scale basis and/or replicable for other social, cultural or geographical settings. They must show leadership and team-player skills to influence the field in which they work, and at the same time, empower citizens as changemakers and involve stakeholders as key actors who can contribute to achieving their initiative and positive change. 

All eligible entrants will    

  • Receive feedback from Ashoka & VITTEL® & Nestlé S.A. networks 
  • Become known internally at the Ashoka & VITTEL® & Nestlé S.A. networks  
  • Be invited to participate in the peer review process  
  • Be considered as potential candidates for Accelerator and Co-Creation opportunities with VITTEL®, Nestlé S.A. & Ashoka 
  • Be considered for features in VITTEL®'s public communications campaigns (upon authorization from entrant), and therefore benefit from large communication and distribution outreach.  

Semifinalists (up to 50) will 

  • Have an opportunity to refine their entry and incorporate feedback received in the screening phase 
  • Receive additional feedback from experts from Ashoka & VITTEL® & Nestlé S.A. 
  • Be referenced on VITTEL®'s website at the semifinalist announcement  
  • Be invited to participate at online calls for semifinalists to connect with each other

Finalists (up to 15) will 

  • Participate at in-person event (travel costs covered) with networking opportunities with VITTEL®, Nestlé S.A. & Ashoka  
  • Have access to additional online network opportunities with Ashoka & VITTEL®& Nestlé S.A.  
  • Be featured in Ashoka social media channels 
  • Be referenced on VITTEL®'s website at the finalists announcement    
  • Present their initiatives at a live-pitch to the judges panel (at the in-person event) 
  • Be reviewed also by a pool of VITTEL® employees and stakeholders, who will vote to choose their favorites. (Voting results will be considered by the judges at the final deliberation).  

Winners (up to 4)  

  • All winners will receive a cash prize (a total of 60 000 CHF will be distributed among the winners);    
  • All winners will be featured on VITTEL® PR coverage about Challenge results;   
  • 2 winners will be invited to participate in an Accelerator for Collective Impact with VITTEL®, Nestlé S.A. & Ashoka. 

  • Entry period - December 12, 2019 – March 3, 2020  
  • Screening  & Peer Review - March 5 - March 26 
  • Semifinalists Announcement  -  March 30, 2020 
  • Refining - March 30 – April 9, 2020    
  • Shortlisting  - April 10 – April 27, 2020 
  • Finalists Announcement - April 28, 2020 
  • In-person final event & Winners announcement - May 2020 (specific days to be confirmed) 


Once the Entry is published by an Applicant, the Entry will be publicly visible on the Act for Biodiversity Challenge platform. The entry will be shared with third parties that need to be necessarily involved for the purpose of all activities around the Act for Biodiversity Challenge.

Upon prior request, individuals or organizations’ submitting Entries can claim for their file and data to be deleted.

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Entry phase. You can participate by submitting your idea or supporting the ideas of others.
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