UN Honours Global Competition Winner for Ideas on Protecting the Environment

07.12.17 Members

Eritai Kateibwi wins top prize for Asia-Pacific for his hydroponics solution. Covestro supports talents in implementing innovative projects.

At this week’s United Nations Environment General Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, six young people from across the globe were honoured as the first-ever Young Champions of the Earth by UN Environment for their outstanding ideas on environmental protection. The new award is sponsored by Covestro, a leading manufacturer of materials for sustainable development.

From Kiribati, a central tropical island about 5,000 km off the north east coast of Australia, Eritai Kateibwi was named a Young Champion of the Earth for his work on a hydroponics system that will improve human health and resilience to climate change on the low-lying island.

The award gives seed-funding and mentorship to outstanding individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, who have big ideas to protect or restore the environment.

Eritai and the other winners received their prizes at a gala event December 5, where they were addressed by UN Environment Head Erik Solheim and singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding, who was appointed by UN Environment as a Global Goodwill Ambassador for her environmental and social justice activism.

The master of ceremonies was model, actor and film producer Dia Mirza, UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador for India who has been recognized for her contribution to environment conservation.

Richard Northcote, Covestro chief sustainability officer, told the assembly that the success of the first Young Champions of the Earth competition meant Covestro would continue to support the UN Environment initiative.

Helping to tackle complex global challenges

“As one of the world’s leading contributors of materials for sustainable development, it was an easy decision for Covestro to partner with UN Environment to inspire and motivate young people across the world to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and help tackle some of the complex social and environmental challenges we all face”, said Northcote, who also outlined efforts by Covestro to be more productive with carbon as a way to contribute to global goals.

“I’m really proud to support these young people follow their passions and achieve their goals”, says Rebecca Lee, Managing Director of Covestro Australia who has joined many other like-minded Covestro employees from around the world as a mentor for the Young Champions. 

"Young Champions are living proof that amid today’s environmental and economic crises, there are incredible opportunities for innovative solutions, fresh approaches and inspirational leadership. This is a fantastic partnership founded on a shared passion for empowering aspiring change-makers," said Solheim, underlining both partners’ commitment to support young talents in implementing their bright ideas.

The Young Champions of the Earth for 2017, selected for their outstanding potential to create positive environmental impact, are:

Europe – Adam Dixon

Phytoponics: a hydroponic growing system for the commercial greenhouse

North America – Kaya Dorey

Closed-loop apparel manufacturing hub

Latin America & the Caribbean – Liliana Jaramillo Pazmiño

Native plants for green roofs in Quito

West Asia – Omer Badokhon

Biogas for all: improving rural livelihoods with sustainable energy

Africa – Mariama Mamane

Innovative eco-management of water hyacinth

Asia Pacific – Eritai Kateibwi

Te Maeu Project: a modular hydroponics food-growing system for Pacific islands

Details of their winning submissions are available on the Young Champions section of the UN Environment website at www.unep.org/youngchampions

For more on Eritai Kateibwi, watch his video here.