19 Sep 2019 Press release Sustainable Development Goals

Seven entrepreneurs win top United Nations Young Champions of the Earth prize for outstanding work to protect our world

  • The Young Champions of the Earth prize is awarded every year to seven entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with big ideas for environmental change.
  • The young champions recognized from across the globe receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts. 
  • The winners will be awarded their prize at a ceremony in New York after the Climate Action Summit.

19 September 2019 – As world leaders gather at the UN Headquarters in New York for the Climate Action Summit and General Assembly in the coming days, climate and the environment will be at the forefront of discussions. Youth around the world are already taking action, because there is no time to lose.

The winners are:

  • North America winner, thirty-year-old Molly Burhans from the United States of America, digitally maps the world’s biggest land owners, encouraging environment stewardship.
  • Winner for Africa, twenty-nine-year-old Adjany Costa, is protecting Angola’s last wild spaces and remote biodiversity hotspots.
  • Winner for Latin America and the Caribbean, twenty-one-year-old Anna-Luisa Beserra from Brazil, is using solar energy to purify water.
  • Winner for West Asia, twenty-three-year-old Omar Itani from Lebanon, is redesigning the future of fashion with his distribution project.
  • Joint Asia and the Pacific winner, thirty-year-old Sonika Manandhar from Nepal, is driving an electric, female-empowered future.
  • Joint Asia and the Pacific winner, twenty-year-old Louise Mabulo from the Philippines, is passionate about feeding the future.
  • Winner for Europe, twenty-nine-year-old Marianna Muntianu from Russia, is making virtual trees a reality with educational gaming.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “While we must all step up to tackle the climate crisis – world leaders, the private sector, individuals and civil society – what these young entrepreneurs demonstrates is that each and every one of us can take action and bring about real change on the ground.”

Markus Steilemann, Chief Executive Officer of Covestro, said: “The business world needs fresh thinking and much more of a start-up culture to tackle global environmental challenges, while ensuring our long-term growth. The Young Champions of the Earth can help achieve this and everyone at Covestro is proud to support them. We want to help make the world a brighter place.”

A global jury, made up of Covestro Chief Executive Officer Markus Steilemann, UN Environment Programme’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya, VICE News Tonight’s science and climate change correspondent Arielle Duhaime-Ross, UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake and Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation, selected the winners among 35 regional finalists from over 1,000 applicants.

Over the next year, the creative, innovative and impactful initiatives of the winners will be documented on social media, through regular news updates and video blogs. Sign up and follow their journey here

The prestigious Young Champions of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro, is awarded every year by the UN Environment Programme to young environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30, for their outstanding ideas to protect the environment.

The seven winners are recognized in Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and West Asia. The winners will receive their award during the Champions of the Earth Ceremony in New York City on 26 September, coinciding with the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting and the Climate Action Summit.



About the Young Champions of the Earth

The Young Champions of the Earth Prize was first started in 2017, offering the prestigious and highly successful Champions of the Earth platform – with laureates including heads of state, inspiring scientists, and environmental visionaries – to brilliant young environmentalists with a vision.

About the UN Environment Programme

The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the 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.

About Covestro

With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 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.

For more information contact:

Keishamaza Rukikaire, UN Environment Programme, Head of News and Media