IBM's 2021 Call for Code is here, and this year's theme is climate change

Winning teams are eligible for a $200,000 grant and help from tech leaders to incubate a product designed to address sustainable production, clean water or addressing hunger.

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Image: monstArrr_, Getty Images/iStockphoto

IBM's fourth annual Call for Code is now open, and this year the company is turning its tech for good initiative toward addressing three climate change problems: Global hunger, clean water and sanitation, and environmentally responsible production and consumption.

The previous three years of IBM's Call for Code Global Challenge have brought together more than 400,000 developers from 179 countries generating more than 15,000 applications designed to address climate and humanitarian issues. 

A fundamental part of the Call for Code challenge is the use of open source software; in previous years that has included "Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain, atmospheric data from IBM's Weather Company, and developer resources and APIs from partners like Intuit and New Relic," IBM said in a press release.

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The initiative has partnered with a number of charitable and social justice-themed organizations, and this year is adding two new partners: Heifer International and charity: water.

"Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and we must apply our collective ingenuity and cutting-edge technologies to make a lasting difference," said Ruth Davis, director of Call for Code, IBM. 

The winning Call for Code team is awarded a $200,000 grant, and support from the IBM Service Corps and other tech experts and ecosystem partners. In previous years, Call for Code winners and participants have gone on to launch various deployments that have helped address global issues. Regional winners receive $5,000, and global runner-ups also receive financial prizes. 

The winners of Call for Code 2020, for example, have expanded their rural farming assistance app Agrolly to assist more than 500 farmers in Mongolia, India and Brazil. Another solution called Liquid Prep has gone on to have its project hosted by the Linux Foundation; other solutions have launched emergency mesh network hardware, health monitors for firefighters, and apps to help enforce social distancing.

Development teams interested in Call for Code 2021 can sign up on IBM's website to get involved. There's a good deal of resources for participants to make use of even if they don't end up winning, such as a free $200 IBM Cloud account credit, communications about Call for Code events and resources, access to a dedicated Call for Code Slack workspace that's monitored by mentors, a technical content library, podcasts and more. 

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Most importantly, teams can find starter kits for all three themes (zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, responsible production and green consumption) that contain instructions on how to meet criteria, additional tools and resources, and links to important APIs and data sets needed to build the apps. 

Submissions will be accepted between April 22 and July 31, with winners to be announced in November. 

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