13 Sep 2018 Press release Cities and lifestyles

UN’s highest environmental honour recognizes seven world-changing ideas

  • Seven young environmental entrepreneurs from around the world will receive the Young Champions of the Earth prize for their bold, innovative projects.
  • Winners will be recognized at a ceremony in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 26 September.
  • Each of the Young Champions will receive US$15,000 in seed funding, as well as mentorship and technical support to amplify their big idea.
     

13 September 2018 – Seven environmental trailblazers between the ages of 18 and 30 will be taking home the coveted Young Champions of the Earth Prize, the UN’s highest environmental honor, for their ambitious project ideas to restore and protect the environment.

The winning young entrepreneurs – hailing from all over the world – are:

  • Shady Rabab, taking home the prize for addressing poverty and waste management in Egypt by making musical instruments from trash and training young people in a band.
  • Hugh Weldon, recognized for his smartphone app which calculates a user’s ecologic footprint based on scanned shopping receipts.
  • Heba Al-Farra, for her support to female environmental professionals in the green industry across the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Arpit Dhupar, for his groundbreaking technique that filters 90 percent  of particulate matter from diesel generators and turning it into ink, without impairing mechanical performance.
  • Miao Wang, receiving the prize for her Better Blue initiative, which empowers divers to conserve and protect the ocean.
  • Miranda Wang, for her novel technology to turn plastic pollution into new resources for a sustainable economy.
  • Gator Halpern, who launched a network of coral farms to restore endangered reefs, restoring vibrant ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

Each of them will be recognized at the annual Champions of the Earth awards ceremony on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York City on 26 September. In the countdown to the event, UN Environment is profiling these young innovators and their big ideas. 

Each Young Champion will receive US $15,000 in seed funding, training and mentoring. With support from UN Environment and partners Covestro, The DO School and CoalitionWILD the winners will be given tools to scale up their projects over the next year. Their journey and project milestones will be documented on social media through regular updates and video blogs.

“For all the urgent environmental challenges we face, these Young Champions are a powerful reminder that the solutions to these challenges are within our grasp,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “Each of these winners has a unique story to tell. Taken together the message our Young Champions send to the world is even stronger: Together we can innovate the future we want while preserving the environment we need.”

From a worldwide pool of thousands, finalists stood out for game changing environmental ideas and the innovate concepts to bring them to life. Vetted by a global jury includingCovestro Chief Executive Office Markus Steilemann, CoalitionWILD Director Crista Valentino, UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake and UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim, ultimately these seven were chosen as the 2018 Young Champions of the Earth.

“Once again, young people around the world have come up with amazing new ideas to help protect the environment,” says Dr. Steilemann. “We are pleased to support this second year of the competition as it completely fits our own global commitment, to make the world a brighter place. As a leading global supplier of high-tech materials for sustainable development, we are partnering with UN Environment to motivate young innovators to tackle the enormous challenges our planet is facing.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Learn more about the winners and see their projects at work in our ongoing profile series.

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 and a plan for the future. 

About UN Environment

UN Environment 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. 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, UN Environment, Head of News and Media, keith.weller[at]un.org