Leverkusen/Nairobi — Three students from Costa Rica, Kenya and Vietnam have received a major international youth award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bayer in recognition of their environmental efforts.
The young environmental innovators received the 2012 Young Environmental Leader Award for creating own sustainable development projects; a scientific process to convert waste shrimp shells into ingredients for medicines, a community project recycling plastic bags into clothing and homeward, and an environmental guide for housewives and families.
The award ceremony was held on the final day of the 2012 Young Environmental Envoy Programme in Leverkusen, Germany.
Adriana Maria Villalobos Delgado, a 20-year-old chemistry student at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica, reuses "waste" shrimp shells which would otherwise pollute the marine environment, by extracting active ingredients for the production of medicines. The project aims to find more sustainable models for the shrimp industry - one of Costa Rica's most important economic sectors.
Mwanyuma Hope Mugambi, 23, studies environmental sciences in Mombasa, Kenya. She and her team of volunteers have created a project to help tackle the environmental, health and biodiversity hazards caused by discarded polythene bags. Local women are trained to sew purses, bags, table mats from plastic bags that are collected from around the community. The projects expand the skills of the local women, many of whom come from marginalized communities, and support their income through the sale of the products.
20-year-old Dang Huyn Mai Anh, a business administration student from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has developed a novel approach towards reducing energy consumption and resource use in private households. Based on extensive research, she successfully designed, produced and distributed a "Green Handbook for Housewives". The guide also includes information on economic savings that households can make from using resources more efficiently.
An expert panel from UNEP, the UNEP / Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Tunza Magazine, (UNEP's publication for young people), and Bayer selected the three winners.
Each winner receives a tailor-made package to support and expand their projects, worth EUR 1,000.
"All three projects offer innovative and sound solutions to major environmental challenges of today," said Dirk Frenzel, responsible for environmental issues at Bayer Communications, and a member of the jury. "The winners represent the smart knowledge and extraordinary commitment of all Bayer Young Environmental Envoys."
"From waste management to resource efficiency and awareness campaigns, both the winners of the Bayer Young Environmental Leader Award, and all of the 2012 Young Environmental Envoys, clearly demonstrate that young people across the world have the motivation, creativity and knowledge to provide concrete solutions to the world's most critical environmental challenges," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.
"With the right kind of support, these innovative projects can be scaled up and replicated elsewhere, thus providing an important contribution to an inclusive, low carbon, resource efficient green economy, which is vital if the world is to meet the resource needs of a global population of 9 billion by 2050," he added.
The award was presented at the closing ceremony of this year's field trip to Germany of the "Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme", a major project under the UNEP-Bayer partnership for youth and the environment.
The 2012 programme brought together close to 50 young environmental envoys from 19 developing and emerging countries for an environmental study tour in Germany.
The programme provides the envoys with insight into the latest research and technology being applied to waste management, renewable energy, resource efficiency, and other critical environmental issues.
Each Young Environmental Envoy is involved in a sustainable development project in his or her home country. The three winning projects were judged to demonstrate the greatest innovation, sustainability, and potential impact.
Since its inception, some 11,200 young people have applied for a place on the programme and over 500 envoys have been selected to take part in the study tour in Germany.
The programme now covers the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Through an alumni network on Facebook and via UNEP's TUNZA youth network, envoys past and present can stay connected and exchange ideas on how to develop their individual projects.