WSI Zuora Subscription Economy Challenge, SDG 13WSI

The Zuora Subscription Economy Challenge winners are announced! See them here

Design a solution to fight climate change and advance sustainability through innovation in the Subscription Economy.

All of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address serious challenges facing humanity today, but none is more urgent than SDG 13. Climate change is an existential threat to everyone on the planet and taking action to slow global warming is critical to our survival.

Businesses play a vital role in deciding the path forward to a climate-friendly future by shaping the way they interact with consumers and their consumption patterns. In response, many companies have been forced to adapt to a new way of conducting business: from buying products to subscribing to services. We call this new business environment the "subscription economy".

What is the Subscription Economy?

The Subscription Economy® is a phrase (coined by Zuora’s CEO, Tien Tzuo) to describe this new era of companies and business models. In the old world (let’s call it the Product Economy) it was all about things. Acquiring new customers, shipping commodities, billing for one-time transactions. But in this new era, it’s all about relationships. More and more customers are becoming subscribers because subscription experiences built around services meet the needs of consumers better than the static offerings or a single product.

Consider subscription services you might already be familiar with such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Uber, and Spotify. How are these subscription services different than owning a product?

Now think about how a subscription service can tackle the issues posed by climate change. Can it reduce waste or promote a transition to "green" products?

In this challenge, we’re asking you to think about creative ways a subscription-based innovation can help fight climate change and preserve the planet. How can a subscription product or service provide alternative solutions to a more sustainable future?

Not sure how to dig in? Take a closer look at how these subscription services are advancing sustainability:

  • Bike-sharing programs such as New York's CitiBike or Colorado's B-cycle provides subscription access to a network of e-bikes to expand public transportation and reduce urban pollution.
  • Decathalon - Sport as a Service, makes sports sustainably accessible by offering rental equipment to reduce carbon footprints and lower costs.
  • Rent the Runway is a subscription program that allows users to rent their clothes instead of owning them to reduce the amount of clothing produced and offset our carbon footprint.
  • Feather and Fernish are two companies that offer consumers the opportunity to rent their furniture and allow people to reduce the amount of furniture thrown away.


Zuora provides a leading monetization suite for modern businesses across all industries, enabling companies to unlock and grow customer-centric business models. Zuora serves as an intelligent hub that monetizes and orchestrates the complete quote to cash and revenue recognition process at scale. Through its industry leading technology and expertise, Zuora helps more than 1,000 companies around the world, including BMC Software, Box, Caterpillar, General Motors, Penske Media Corporation, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Zoom nurture and monetize direct, digital customer relationships. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Zuora operates offices around the world in the Americas, EMEA and APAC. To learn more about the Zuora monetization suite, please visit

Explore this challenge

The “World Subscribed” can be a more sustainable world. A world that can help evolve products into innovative services that are designed to be reused and repurposed. We are seeing the same general dynamics behind the shift to the cloud. Access over ownership and on a consumption basis is happening across industries from furniture to electronics to clothes. Recurring revenue businesses are helping us move away from living in a landfill economy to a circular economy, one subscription at a time.

Daisy Hernandez / Chief Strategy and Operations Officer

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