- Twenty-nine-year-old Angolan Adjany Costa wins the prestigious Young Champions of the Earth Prize for Africa for her efforts in conserving the world’s last wild places.
- Seven young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with big ideas for environmental change have been recognized from across the globe.
- Young Champions from every region receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts.
17 September 2019 – Twenty-nine-year-old wildlife ethno-conservationist Adjany Costa from Angola has won the Young Champions of the Earth Prize for her efforts to conserve precious water and biodiversity hotspots in Angola.
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.
Costa’s solution is to work with the Luchaze community in the Eastern Angolan highlands, threatened by unsustainable livelihood practices following the country’s three-decade-long civil war which ended in 2002, as well as clearing of Miombo woodland once landmines are removed.
As communities return to the land, protecting the Miombo woodland which traps water and nurtures rich biodiversity is critical to protect environmental degradation.
The Okavango River Basin is a vital ecosystem and part of the largest freshwater wetland in Southern Africa. Over a million people depend on the basin, shared by Angola, Namibia and Botswana.
Its delta, in Botswana, is home to an abundance of iconic wildlife including one of the world’s largest elephant populations. The Cuito River is a tributary to the Okavango Delta, maintaining its water levels and fundamental to the upkeep of the whole ecosystem.
“We depend on ecosystems for survival, and more so do poor rural communities. We must be mindful about how our way of living impacts our environment and work with indigenous communities that depend on them to improve their livelihoods through conservation.”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “Nature is declining globally at unprecedented rates, with grave impacts for humanity and the environment. The evidence is overwhelming. Protecting the health of our ecosystems and our remaining wild places by 2050 is vital for our survival and a sustainable future.”
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 UN Environment to young environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30, for their outstanding ideas to protect the environment.
Adjany is one of seven winners from 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.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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 UN Environment
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.
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