Young Champions of the Earth

You want to change the world? We’re here to help.

Young Champions of the Earth is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of brilliant young environmentalists.

“Because of CoalitionWILD and the Young Champions of the Earth, my project, Nativus, has gained credibility locally where industry and policymakers are starting to acknowledge the importance of generating green spaces in the city.

It also has helped me to share my idea internationally and get in contact with more people and projects – joining forces to keep learning and shaping this work. This has been an amazing opportunity that keeps opening doors to create a positive impact in the world.”

2017 Young Champion of the Earth
Founder Nativus

A partnership between CoalitionWILD and the UN Environment, Young Champions of the Earth (#YoungChamps) aims to celebrate and support individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 who have outstanding potential to create positive environmental impact. Along with receiving the prestigious award, winners receive seed funding, intensive training, and tailored mentorship to help bring big environmental ideas to life.

Meet the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth

Fatemah AlzelzelaKuwaiti
Eco Star – Trees to Waste

Eco Star works to collect recyclable materials (paper, plastic and metal),  working hand-in-hand with recycling factories, and in exchange for waste, gives plants and trees to individuals and organisations – encouraging the increase in green cover in Kuwait. The program also includes data capture – the first recent study in the field of waste collection and treatment for Kuwait. To date, Eco Star has saved tons of materials from the landfill and have covered more than 2,000 waste-receiving operations (including homes, schools, companies and restaurants).

Read Fatemah’s full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Lefteris Arapakis, Greece

Enaleia is a wide-scale clean-up of the Mediterranean maritime ecosystem, utilizing a network of fishermen, and the responsible management of the collected waste into the circular economy. They train, empower and incentivise old & new fishermen to collect plastic from the sea – allowing both fish stocks and the ecosystem to recover, while providing a source of income from plastic brought to shore. Enaleia also collabroates with companies to create high quality products such as t-shirts and socks from ocean waste. Currently, Enaleia has removed more than 1.5 tonnes of marine plastic weekly, and 10 tonnes of discarded fishing gear per year, while making it scalable through working with fishing communities around the globe.

Read Lefteris’ full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Max Hidalgo Quinto, Peru

Yawa is a portable, multifunctional and sustainable technology capable of obtaining up to 300L of water per day from atmospheric humidity and mist. This technology can be applied to provide access to drinking water to communities, in agricultural and forestry projects, and for the irrigation of green buildings.

Read Max’s full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Niria Alicia Garcia, United States

Coupled with advocacy, campaigns and indigenous curriculum, the Run4Salmon prayerful journey for the past 4 years has engaged government officials, lawyers, advocates and everyday people on the 300-mile journey that the endangered Chinook salmon make along the waters of California’s largest watershed to inspire, educate and engage people in restoring this endangered keystone species that is essential to the health of California lands and waters. As we work to make this life-changing journey accessible for all in the times of COVID-19, we are working to make this tour accessible to anyone anywhere through a virtual reality video.

Read Niria’s full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Nzambi Matee, Kenya
Gjenge Makers Ltd

Gjenge Makers Ltd is producing eco-friendly pavers made of a composite of recycled waste plastic and sand. They have partnered with different manufacturers of plastics bottle tops and seals in the beverage and pharmaceutical industries in Kenya, from whom we collect offcuts and scraps. Gjenge Makers Ltd have produced about 500-1000 bricks per day, recycling close to 500 kilograms of plastic waste a day. The business has financially empowered over 112 individuals, the majority of whom are women and youth groups who are our partners in supplying the waste plastic and the pre-processing stage of our production process.

Read Marianna’s full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Vidyut Mohan, India

Takachar’s is increasing the amount of waste biomass (post-harvest crop/forest residues), transforming it into marketable products around the world, and reducing the pollution associated with open-air biomass burning. By deploying small-scale, low cost, portable biomass upgrading equipment, Takachar enables rural farmers to earn 40% more by converting their crop residues into fuels, fertilizers and value-added chemicals like activated carbon (AC) on-site. By choosing activated carbon (AC) as the starting market, Takachar reduces air pollution associated with crop residue burning, while ensuring a stable, renewable, pollution free and financially lucrative raw material supply for the AC industry vs. traditional fossil based sources. 

Read Vidyut’s full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Xiaoyuan Ren, China

My H2O – Water Information Network was established to increase the amount of information on drinking water quality in rural China, an issue that has long been neglected. Various clean water solution providers attempt to reach these communities with innovative resources but there is little data to help guide these resources to where they are needed most. Through a nationwide collaborative youth volunteer network, MyH2O aims to collect clean water data, diagnose water problems on a case-by-case basis, with the goal to connect data-driven water resources and solutions to the underprivileged communities in need and improve their overall health. The network has grown to over 100 field teams covering 3800+ datasets in close to 1000 villages across 26 provinces and has successfully delivered clean water stations to tens of thousands of villagers in China.

Read Xiaoyuan’s (Charlene) full story on the UN Environment webpage.

Past Young Champions of the Earth

Marianna Muntianu, Russia
2019 Young Champion of the Earth
Plant The Forest

Adjany Costa, Angola
2019 Young Champion of the Earth
Wildlife Protection through Community Based Natural Resource Management

Anna Luisa Beserra, Brazil
2018 Young Champion of the Earth

Sonika Manandhar, Nepal
2019 Young Champion of the Earth

Louise Mabulo, Philippines
2019 Young Champion of the Earth
The Cacao Project

Molly Burhans, United States
2019 Young Champion of the Earth

Omar Itani, Lebanon
2019 Young Champion of the Earth
Fabric Aid

Arpit Dhupar, India
2018 Young Champion of the Earth
Chakra Innovation

Hugh Weldon, Ireland
2018 Young Champion of the Earth

Heba Al-Farra, Kuwait
2018 Young Champion of the Earth
Women in Energy and Environment

Miranda Wang, United States
2018 Young Champion of the Earth

Gator Halpern, Bahamas
2018 Young Champion of the Earth
Coral Vita

Shady Rabab, Egypt
2018 Young Champion of the Earth
Rabab Luxor – Garbage Music

Miao Wang, China
2018 Young Champion of the Earth
Better Blue

Adam Dixon, United Kingdom
2017 Young Champion of the Earth

Kaya Dorey, Canada
2017 Young Champion of the Earth
Novel Supply Co.

Mariama Mamane, Niger
2017 Young Champion of the Earth

Eritai Kateibwi, Kiribati
2017 Young Champion of the Earth
Te Maeu Project

Omer Badokhon, Yemen
2017 Young Champion of the Earth
Biogas From Waste

Liliana Jaramillo, Ecuador
2017 Young Champion of the Earth


The Young Champions of the Earth Award celebrates and supports seven environmental leaders between 18 – 30 years old who have outstanding potential to create positive environmental impact.
Each year, seven young people are selected from each region of the world to receive seed funding, intensive training, and tailored mentoring to bring their big ideas to life. #YoungChamps are artists, scientists, economists, communicators, and entrepreneurs.
Being a #YoungChamp is more than an honorary title. The Award nurtures the next generation of environmental leaders and connects them to a community of passionate and committed colleagues and experts.
Learn more on the UN Environment Young Champions website. 










The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UN Environment’s work includes assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends; developing international and national environmental instruments; and strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment.

UN Environment’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage 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.

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