XPRIZE Partners with the Smithsonian, Earth Optimism Summit

Jul 17 2020

In partnership with the Smithsonian, Earth Optimism and in celebration of Earth Day, XPRIZE introduces a new prize competition that will revolutionize our understanding of the planet’s most diverse and complex ecosystems in a time that has never been more urgent for conservation, the Rainforest XPRIZE.

Speaker: Shah Selbe, Technical Consultant, Rainforest XPRIZE


Hi, my name is Shah Selbe

I am an Explorer with the National Geographic Society and Founder of the conservation technology development lab Conservify.

For more than a decade, I have been researching technology innovations for conservation. It is through that work that I have been helping to advise XPRIZE on what I believe will be one of their most environmentally impactful challenges to date. 

Rainforests across the globe are facing unprecedented threats. These ecosystems are critically important to the livelihoods of indigenous communities, they serve as habitat to a significant portion of terrestrial biodiversity, and play an important part in global climate regulation. 

The audience here at the Earth Optimism Summit knows this better than most, but the need to better understand and protect this environment has never been more urgent. 

Fortunately, we live in a time where we have the ability to build better tools to help us understand and protect our planet. THIS is the promise of conservation technology, where we can leverage the remarkable speed of technological innovation to design something that can monitor and collect data at a frequency and fidelity that was never before possible. These tools not only make our jobs easier, but they can fundamentally change the types of questions that we can ask. When we design the solutions with this as the core goal we can create some amazing and accessible ideas.

In many ways, places like the Amazon have reached a critical turning point with respect to deforestation, wildlife degradation, and climate change. The entire world watched as the forests burned last year, caused mostly by human activity and unsustainable agribusiness. 

We are losing pristine rainforests and the living things within them before even getting the opportunity to document and study them. The scientists and conservationists watching virtually today do an incredible job at pushing that science forward, but we are losing things at a faster rate than we can support. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. XPRIZE aims to catalyze the development of better solutions through their $10 Million Dollar Rainforest XPRIZE.

We need your help to find a better way to understand and document the biodiversity in our rainforests. Please visit rainforest.xprize.org to find out more and get involved. The teams that will find a solution to this issue will be made up of a diverse group of experts, engineers, scientists, community members, and more. So whatever it is your expertise is, there is a place for you here. Come join us to learn more about it.