Wanted: Youth tackling the triple planetary crisis

Nominations open for 2024 UNEP Young Champions of the Earth award

  • The Young Champions of the Earth award honours individuals between 18 and 30 years old showing exceptional potential to help protect the environment.
  • UNEP seeks seven young people implementing ground-breaking ideas and solutions that showcase nature’s potential in addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution.
  • The Young Champions will receive public recognition, seed funding, training, mentorship, and access to global change-makers.  
  • Nominations are open from 27 February to 5 April 2024.

Nairobi, 27 February 2023 – The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched a call for nominations for its Young Champions of the Earth award, which recognizes young people’s contributions and outstanding potential to lead efforts to protect the environment.

This year, UNEP seeks seven young people – aged between 18 and 30 – who exemplify commitment to the environment and are leading projects that protect and revive nature to fight climate change, restore ecosystem functionality, and address pollution. This year’s round of Young Champions of the Earth is jointly run with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and in support of the new Global Biodiversity Framework.

UNEP’s selected Young Champions will receive US$20,000 in seed funding, a chance to attend high-level UN meetings, access to a community of global experts, and intensive training and tailored mentoring to bring their big environmental ideas to life. UNEP is looking for young entrepreneurs, scientists, economists, artists, and communicators from all walks of life who have big, bold ideas – for the environment, for humanity, and for a greener future. To demonstrate the project’s dedication and feasibility, prospective candidates must have actively pursued their ideas for a minimum of six months.

“Outstanding young entrepreneurs, scholars, creators, and activists need our backing to put the planet on track for recovery,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “UNEP is in search of the most innovative minds of this generation, from all disciplines and every region in the world, who are actively recalibrating our relationship with nature.”

Past winners of UNEP’s Young Champions of the Earth award include Adjany Costa, who developed a model for communities in one of the last wildlife hubs in eastern Angola, Lefteris Arapakis, from Greece, who trains, empowers and incentivizes old and new fishermen in the Mediterranean to collect plastic from the sea, and Eritai Kateibwi, whose Te Maeu Project focuses on developing a low-impact hydroponics growing system to bring fresh crops to Kiribati.

Children and youth are enduring the worst impacts of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, as well as rising inequality and unemployment. If young people are to have a liveable planet in the future, they will require better access to financing, networks and partnerships, and greater influence on environmental policymaking.

The Young Champions of the Earth programme is supported by Elephant17.org, an initiative focused on ‘Paying It Forward For Climate’ founded by Chris Kemper. Mr. Kemper is UNEP’s Advocate for Partnerships and Chairman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Palmetto Clean Technology, who, through the programme, aims to contribute to the empowerment of young people promoting environmental stewardship globally.

“To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, much of the world must leapfrog to new technological and nature-based solutions, and such a bold, systemic shift calls for the entrepreneurialism and energy that emerging entrepreneurs bring to the table,” said Chris Kemper. “I believe that entrepreneurs embody the drive, energy and passion needed to make the necessary and positive changes in today’s world. I’m excited to see the impact that the new Champions create.”

Application for UNEP’s Young Champions of the Earth award is open from 27 February to 5 April 23:59 East African Time (EAT).

About the UNEP Young Champions of the Earth
UNEP’s Young Champions of the Earth is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of young environmentalists. The award is bestowed annually o seven ambitious young people from around the world with outstanding ideas to protect and restore the environment.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. Co-led by UNEP and FAO, the Decade aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to achieve global goals. It ends in 2030, the deadline for the SDGs and the timeline scientists identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

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