18 Sep 2019 Press release Transport

Young environmental prize winner for Asia and the Pacific is driving an electric revolution to use big data for efficient transport

  • Sonika Manandhar from Nepal wins the prestigious Young Champions of the Earth Prize for Asia and the Pacific for honing big data to make electric transport more efficient and accessible, especially for women. 
  • Seven young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with big ideas for environmental change have been recognized from across the globe.
  • Young Champions from each region receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts. 

18 September 2019 – Thirty-year-old Sonika Manandhar from Nepal is leading an initiative to capture big data from electric vehicles and cut emissions by making transportation efficient, while empowering women. 

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.

Manandhar’s solution, Green Energy Mobility, aims to make public transportation, specifically electric minibuses in Nepal known as Safa tempos, a quality alternative to private vehicles to combat climate change.

Since Safa tempos are well-known for being women-owned, her work embraces female empowerment by providing drivers with access to loans and women as customers with a method of clean and safe transport after 8 p.m. when most public transport in Kathmandu ends.

“Our vision is to help women own and upgrade their electric vehicles through low-interest impact financing,” said Manandhar. “Our aim is to use big data to collect traffic patterns which can help city planners drive a more efficient future.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “The global transport sector contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. Our success in rapidly decarbonizing this sector will depend on how we use data, design better cities and encourage cleaner public transport systems. By focusing on the role of women in the transport sector, this innovation is a welcome effort to empower women in a traditionally male-dominated sector.”

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 Programme to young environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30, for their outstanding ideas to protect the environment. 

Sonika 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 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 UN Environment Programme

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