04 Mar 2019 Story Cities and lifestyles

Welcoming our seven young champions to Nairobi

Photo by UN Environment

We’re excited to welcome our seven 2018 Young Champions of the Earth to Kenya for the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly. The seven prize winners, powered by Covestro, will join delegates in Nairobi from 11 to 15 March 2019 for a series of high-level meetings and events.

The Young Champions of the Earth prize is awarded once a year to exceptional change-makers between 18 and 30 for their unique solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The winners, selected from each global region, receive seed funding, intensive training, and tailored mentorship to help them unlock the full potential of their innovative projects. They are all working to #SolveDifferent on environmental crises.

Last year’s competition winners are working on a variety of issues. Heba Al-Farra, the winner for West Asia, is the founder of Women in Energy & Environment, a member-driven organization empowering and supporting women in the energy and environment sectors in the Middle East and North Africa.

In North America, Miranda Wang and BioCellection are addressing the plastic pollution crisis with an economical recycling solution for currently unrecyclable plastic waste, transforming it into renewable chemicals for sustainable virgin-quality materials.

Gator Halpern, Hugh Weldon and Shady Rabab at the Young Champions of the Earth winning ceremony in New York, 2018. Photo by UN Environment.

Gator Halpern’s company Coral Vita is working on protecting our planet’s invaluable coral reefs—which are being lost at an alarming rate—through the creation of a global network of innovative land-based coral farms. Gator is the 2018 Young Champion for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In another effort to protect marine ecosystems, Miao Wang founded Better Blue, a network building an eco-evaluation system allowing every diver and diving centre worldwide to become an advocate for marine conservation.

Miao is one of the two Young Champions from the Asia-Pacific region, together with Arpit Dhupar, whose company Chakr Innovation is fighting air pollution with an innovative technique to control emissions from diesel generators. The carbon captured in the process is used to create non-toxic ink pigment.

In Europe, Hugh Weldon co-developed Evocco, a smartphone app that educates users on the environmental impact of their food purchases to align purchasing behaviours and ethics.

And from Africa, the Young Champion Shady Rabab is building the Rabab Luxor Art Collective, which empowers children to make use of plastic waste in a creative way by turning it into musical instruments.

Their engagements will kick off with a two-day retreat at Lake Naivasha from 9 to 10 March. The tailored workshop will cover storytelling, communicating to different audiences, milestone mapping and mentoring in behaviour change.

During the full week of the Environment Assembly, themed: ‘Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production,’ all the Young Champions will speak at high-level events and attend networking sessions with delegates from around the world. 

Young Champions of the Earth winning ceremony in New York, 2018. Photo by UN Environment

On Monday, 11 March, Hugh will speak at the first Panel Event of the 2019 Sustainable Innovation Expo on Harnessing Big Data on the Environment for Sustainable Development. The session aims to engage discussion on leveraging big data and artificial intelligence for the environment.

The three female winners will attend the Women Ministers & Leaders of Environment Breakfast held on Wednesday, 13 March. Participants of the breakfast meeting will discuss gender issues, sustainable consumption and production, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Arpit and Miranda will address an audience of the Alliance for High Ambition on Chemicals and Waste—a group of committed leaders of ministers and the senior representatives from intergovernmental organizations, industry and civil society, to encourage multi-level action on issues around chemicals and waste.

The seven will also hold their own cocktail session entitled: “Youth to Power,” where they will facilitate a discussion aimed at world leaders to incorporate youth into the environmental debate.

We’re looking forward to an eventful and stimulating week here in Kenya—Karibuni! Watch this space and follow the #SolveDifferent campaign for updates.


Do you want to be a Young Champion of the Earth in 2019? We encourage everyone who wants to make a difference for our planet to apply for the Young Champion of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro. Apply today! The portal is open until March 31st.