Seven young environmentalists across the world have been awarded a highly prestigious prize in recognition of their contribution to creating meaningful and immediate solutions to a diversity of challenges affecting the world. The challenges included changes in the way we approach climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution and waste pollution.

The prizes are awarded by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and each of the seven winners, three men and four women, will be expected to implement their project and ideas and maintain contact with the UNEP.

How exciting to see such a project underway? These young people are our future, and they are passionate about the future of their world. The purpose of these projects is to cut emissions and protect and restore ecosystems.

The four young women who made the cut are:

Xiaoyuan Ren (Asia and Pacific winner). MyH2O – a data platform for clean water. Xiaoyuan has won several awards for her work in environmental sustainability. This particular project is a Water Information Network that offers solutions to China’s rural communities, many of whom lack clean drinking water. In the words of Joakim Harlin the project ‘addresses the root causes of deteriorating water resources in underprivileged communities’. Her project has now built up 100 field teams across 26 provinces in China which aim to collect clean water data, diagnose water problems, and develop solutions for these rural underprivileged communities. It has been successful in delivering clean water stations to thousands of villagers.

Fatemah Alzelzela (West Asia winner). Eco Star. Trade in plastic for plants. Fatimah, an electrical engineer, developed her own organisation called Eco Star which allows individuals to hand in their waste products such as paper, plastic and metal for plants and trees. While Fatemah’s country, Kuwait, is one of the richest in the world, it has virtually no sustainable solutions for recycling, with 90% of its waste going to 18 growing landfills. Her work will be critical in helping reduce the amount of rubbish Kuwait accumulates. Kuwait lacks functioning green areas. This project will help develop those green areas.

Niria Alicia Garcia (North America) Run4salmonindigenous-led conservation. Niria is described as a Xicana human-rights advocate, climate justice organiser, educator, and story-teller. Her goal is to ’inspire, educate and engage people to restore the natural habitat in America’s west coast and retain the indigenous way of life’. Niria has developed a number of group events to highlight the policies which threaten the extinction of endangered species, among them the Winter-run Chinook Salmon, an endangered species.

Nzambi Matee (Africa). Gjenge Makers Ltd. Nzambi, a mechanical engineer, was faced with the challenge of disposing of recycled plastic waste and sand, both of which fill thousands of tonnes of landfill every year. Her company now partners with a number of plastics and pharmaceutical industries to build a brick which is a ‘sustainable, alternative and affordable building product’. Employment possibilities are taken up by women and youth groups who partner in supplying the pre-processing stage of the production. The bricks produced are twice the weight of traditional concrete bricks.

These four young women are contributing in four diverse ways to helping humanity share the global responsibility for saving the planet.

Ref: Jessie Tu. Women’s Agenda

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