12 Jun 2018 Press release Cities and lifestyles

35 big ideas make it to UN Environment’s Young Champions of the Earth finals


  • 35 young entrepreneurs across 6 regions have made it to the regional finals for the 2018 cycle of the Young Champions of the Earth prize.
  • The public can vote for their favorite ideas, with the winners being picked by a global jury.
  • The 7 winning Young Champions will be awarded with seed funding, mentorship and access to a wide network to bring their ideas into fruition.

Nairobi, 12 June 2018 – UN Environment today announced the names of the 35 young entrepreneurs across 6 regions who have made it to the regional finals of 2018 cycle of the Young Champions of the Earth prize.

Now in its second year, ‘Young Champions’ is a global competition that seeks out entrepreneurs and innovators with big ideas to secure a sustainable future. All of the finalists’ ideas address urgent environmental issues in bold and creative ways.

The seven final winners will each receive the prestigious prize along with 15,000 USD in seed funding, mentorship from industry leaders and access to a wide network of influencers to bring their ideas into fruition.

 “The Young Champions of the Earth prize is highlighting exactly how creative, dedicated and driven young people can be when it comes to the future of our environment,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “These regional finalists are an inspiration to all of us, that hard work and a positive outlook are a powerful way to reach a goal, even one as ambitious as a sustainable world for all.”

“Covestro is proud to continue its full support for the second year of the Young Champions of the Earth competition,” says Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann. “As one of the world’s leading contributors of materials for sustainable development, we’re honored to partner with UN Environment to inspire and motivate young people across the world to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

From a pool of 760 submitted project ideas across a wide spectrum of impact areas, the 35 regional finalists stood out for their drive, the novelty an scalability of their ideas, and their potential to address pressing environmental issues.

Their proposals range from land-based coral farms that aim to replenish the dying coral reefs around the world and a plan for breeding fatty insects as a source of biofuel, to be used as an alternative for palm oil. They include educational initiatives involving board games, music and digital platforms to raise awareness about environmental issues; tackling plastic pollution through recycling and upcycling – into bricks and urinals – and an integrated system of wildfire detectors that can detect and prevent destructive fires. 

The review of applications was conducted by a global team of 20 UN Environment staff in conjunction with representatives and affiliates of CoalitionWILD, notably: Change the System Executive Director Alan Jarandilla Nunez; CoalitionWILD Steering Committee Member Cécile Tang; Independent Educator and Conservationist Coralie Menet; and CoalitionWILD Ambassador Yoba Alenga.

Members of the public are being encouraged to view and rate the proposals on the Young Champions of the Earth website now. The non-binding public vote will close at 16h00 EAT on Monday 25 June. The public online vote will inform a global jury to select the 2018 Young Champions in September. 

More information about all 35 projects and short biographies of their creators can be found on the Young Champions website.


About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

About Covestro:

With 2017 sales of EUR 14.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,200 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2017.

For more information, please contact:

Keith Weller, Head of News and Media, [email protected]