The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced a shortlist of regional finalists for the Young Champions of the Earth prize. The global competition aims to identify, support, and celebrate outstanding individuals aged between 18 and 30 with big ideas to protect or restore the environment.
The top 35 finalists – chosen from a total of 845 applicants – were selected for their fresh approach to tackling the world’s most pressing environmental crises with groundbreaking, scalable and innovative ideas.
From protecting indigenous Amazonian land through adventure travel to converting harmful emissions into valuable commodities in the US to fishing for plastic in Greece and generating electricity from water in Nigeria, the finalists tackle a broad range of environmental challenges with the potential to drive real change.
Meet Nzambi Matee, a serial entrepreneur and self-taught hardware designer and mechanical engineer.
“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cutting-edge solutions presented by this year’s Young Champions finalists are truly remarkable. It is clear that this pandemic did not shut down the fight for a better world. Instead, it has reminded us of what’s at stake in our battle for the planet, and highlights how building back better will help address the climate crisis and preserve human and planetary health,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
The seven regional winners will be selected by a global jury made up of UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen; the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake; UNEP’s Supporter for Creative Economy, Roberta Annan, and CEO of the UN Foundation, Elizabeth Cousens.
“Young people all around the world are raising awareness about the wrong choices we have made and the impact of environmental destruction on their future,” she added. “We are committed to providing young changemakers a voice, a platform, and the opportunity to make their journey a success while inspiring millions more around the world.”
Meet Richard Wambua, Tree-E-O(CEO) to MeForest Initiative
Each winner receives $10,000 in seed funding, tailored support, and access to powerful networks and mentors. The Young Champions of the Earth prize is sponsored by Covestro.
Short biographies of the 35 regional finalists and summaries of their ideas, including video pitches, are now available on the Young Champions website. Kenya is represented by Nzambi Matee and Richard Kakunga Wambua. The global jury will select the seven Young Champions in December 2020, and they will be celebrated during an award ceremony together with UNEP’s annual Champions of the Earth, the UN’s highest environmental honour.
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