21 June 2018
Youth Celebrate, Innovate for the Environment
Photo Credit: Lynn Wagner
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UNEP announced the names of 35 young entrepreneurs and innovators selected for a global competition to identify and support ideas with positive environment impacts.

The UNCCD organized a youth engagement event to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and discuss how youth can fight land degradation.

17 June 2018: Youth led celebrations of the World Day to Combat Desertification and are championing solutions to environmental problems that fall within the realm of the Sustainable Development Goal on life on land (SDG 15), the Goal on life below water (SDG 14), and the Goal on affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), among others. In July, the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will examine progress on SDG 15 in-depth.

On 12 June 2018, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment) announced the names of the 35 young entrepreneurs selected for the regional finals of the Young Champions of the Earth 2018 Competition. ‘Young Champions’ is a global competition that seeks to identify and support entrepreneurs and innovators between the ages of 18 and 30 years-old to create positive environment impacts. It is managed by UNEP in partnership with Covestro.

The 35 regional finalists were selected from a pool of 760 submitted project ideas. Criteria for selection included: the novelty and scalability of their ideas and the potential to address pressing environmental issues. Project proposals included: land-based coral farms that replenish dying coral reefs around the world; a plan for breeding fatty insects as a source of biofuel to be used as an alternative for palm oil; educational initiatives involving board games, music and digital platforms to raise awareness of environmental issues; and tackling plastic pollution through recycling and “upcycling.”

Members of the public are invited to vote for projects on the ‘Youth Champions of the Earth’ website by 25 June, and their vote will inform a global jury choosing the 2018 Young Champions winners in September. Each winner should: receive US$15,000 in seed funding; attend a high-level UN meeting; be introduced to dignitaries at the Champions of the Earth Award Ceremony; get publicity and recognition through online and global media; gain access to a community of Covestro experts offering insights and mentoring; and participate in an entrepreneurial training program provided by The DO School, an award winning social enterprise.

Young Champions winners will be required to share information on the implementation of their project through blogs and vlogs posted on the Young Champions of the Earth website for a period of up to one year. [UNEP Press Release on Young Champions of the Earth] [Young Champions of the Earth Website] [Young Champions of the Earth Brochure]

To celebrate the 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Capacity Building Marketplace (CBM) team organized a youth engagement event at St. George’s International School in Cologne, Germany. The event included a presentation on how desertification and land degradation are relevant to everyone and contribute to global challenges, including forced migration and climate change.

UNCCD highlighted various ways young people can get involved in the fight against land degradation, from global initiatives developed by the UN to community-organized tree-planting programmes. Participants also discussed the impact of their everyday choices on land, such as buying local produce to support small farms that invest in sustainable land management.

The 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification was celebrated worldwide on 17 June under the slogan ‘Land has true value – Invest in it.’ It emphasized sustainable land management as a way to regenerate economies, create jobs and revitalize communities. WDCD was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) 23 years ago to raise awareness on the global and national actions that address desertification, land degradation and drought. Ecuador hosted the 2018 global observance of the Day. [UNCCD Press Release on Youth Engagement Event] [UNCCD Youth Engagement Event Announcement] [UNCCD Webpage on 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification]

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