This year, the winning young entrepreneurs – hailing from all over the world – are:
Shady Rabab: Awarded the prize for addressing poverty and waste management in Egypt by making musical instruments from trash and training young people to develop their musical skills. Shaby founded the Rabab Luxor Art Collective in reaction to the increased reliance on tourism which was damaging the environment. “At the Garbage Conservatoire Band we teach children how to make the musical instruments out of garbage,” Shaby tell us. “The benefits for the kids is they discover sustainable thinking.”
Hugh Weldon: Recognised for his smartphone app which calculates a user’s ecologic footprint based on scanned shopping receipts. Evocco educates the user about the environmental impact of food purchases in a simplified, informative manner. “For most of us, we don’t know where to start when embracing a more sustainable lifestyle,’ Hugh explains. “Evocco changes everything. Simply download our app, take a photograph of your food shopping receipt and see your impact.”
Heba Al-Farra: Honoured for her support for female environmental professionals in the green industry across the Middle East and North Africa. Heba founded Women in Energy & Environment and says: “By teaching women, we can teach all the generations because women, they are mothers, they are daughters, they are friends. If we put this impact on a woman, it will reflect directly onto the next generation.”
Arpit Dhupar: Acknowledged for a groundbreaking technique that filters 90 percent of particulate matter from diesel generators and turns it into ink, without impairing mechanical performance. Arpit founded Chakr Innovations after he’d suffered from pollution related breathing problems. He has built a patented technology which can be coupled to an exhaust or a diesel generator and it captures the soot or the smoke coming out of it at the source. Arpit says: “These gestures by organisations such as the UN not only empower the person, but empower the entire community.”
Miao Wang: Received the prize for her Better Blue initiative, which empowers divers to conserve and protect the ocean. “The first thing Better Blue is doing is to construct a diving community in different cities who all have a strong passion about ocean conservation,” Miao says. “You need to pursue what you love and fight for what you love.”
Miranda Wang: Hand-picked for her novel technology that turns plastic pollution into new resources for a sustainable economy. Miranda takes “dirty plastics that are not recyclable today, and are polluting our landfills and oceans, into valuable chemicals.” Miranda tells us: “Their largest application is in making nylon, performance materials we use in our cars, our electronics and also our clothing.”
Gator Halpern: Launched a network of coral farms, Coral Vita, to restore endangered reefs, restoring vibrant ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Gator has the largest land-based coral farm and has been successful in growing climate resistant coral. “We can grow about 3,000 coral colonies each year,” says Gator. “An essential part of what we do is to work with the local communities. They are the ones who know their reefs the best, and they benefit most from having a healthy reef.”
Each Young Champion will receive $15,000 in seed funding, training and mentoring. With support from UN Environment and partners Covestro, The DO School and CoalitionWILD, the winners will be given tools to scale up their projects over the next year.
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