20 Jan 2020 Story Cities and lifestyles

Top tips for winning: Young Champion of the Earth for Asia and the Pacific

Sonika Manandhar’s Green Energy Mobility platform is a big data solution developed by 2019 Young Champion for Asia and the Pacific to combat climate change in Nepal.

Her vision is to help women own and upgrade their Safa Tempos—three-wheeler electric minibuses—through low-interest impact financing. The platform aims to make electric public transportation a quality alternative to private vehicles, especially for women at risk when working late in Kathmandu and beyond.

Bert Fabian, Programme Officer for the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Air Quality and Mobility Unit, said: “Today’s transport sector is almost completely dependent on fossil fuels but this doesn’t have to be the case.

“Leading by example, young people like Sonika are stepping up to lead the transition towards a cleaner future. Her mission to drive electric mobility and to empower women in the process is an inspiration, and such practices need to be scaled up and replicated around the world for real change on the ground.”

We asked Manandhar for her top tips for winning the prize. If you’re aged between 18-30 with an environmental idea, why not dive in and apply?

Congratulations on your Young Champions of the Earth prize! What tips do you have for others who want to apply in 2020?

As an engineer, I would encourage fellow engineers not to be too technical. When you are talking about social problems and environmental problems it’s not good to put your solution in a technical way. Put it in a way anyone can understand. I have struggled with this, so I feel it’s important to let potential applicants know.

How much experience did you have when you applied?

Before applying, it is good to put yourself out there and see how feasible your solution is. Do some market research beforehand and run a pilot if possible, to get some data. Get your hands dirty basically! You are going into this international platform and you will need to talk about what you have done until now and what the potential is. So, I think it’s better to get some experience beforehand rather than just putting forward an idea in the competition.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others, what would it be?

Just be yourself! Don’t be intimidated. Run through your application with someone you look up to, so that they can also give a different view towards your approach to the application. But don’t give it to many people because you will be confused at the end! Have faith in yourself and your idea.

Do you have what it takes to be a Young Champion of the Earth? Applications open in early 2020. When you apply, you also become part of our change-maker community. Stay tuned!

The Young Champions of the Earth Prize, powered by Covestro, is UN Environment Programme’s leading initiative to engage youth in tackling the world's most pressing environmental challenges.