Innovative ideas for Covestro-supported environmental protection prize – UN Young Champions of the Earth 2019 winners named

Seven young people from around the world have been recognized as 2019 Young Champions of the Earth or their innovative ideas on tackling the global climate crisis.

Supported by Covestro, a leading manufacturer of materials for sustainable development, and organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), it is the third time the annual programme has been held to award ideas from young people on environmental protection.

A global jury including Covestro CEO Markus Steilemann selected 35 regional finalists from over 1000 applicants, all aged between 18 and 30.

Steilemann said: “The business world needs fresh thinking and much more of a start-up culture to tackle environmental challenges while ensuring global long-term growth. The Young Champions of the Earth can help achieve this – and everyone at Covestro is proud to support them. We want to help make the world a brighter place.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “While we must all step up to tackle the climate crisis – world leaders, the private sector, individuals and civil society – what these young entrepreneurs demonstrate is that each and every one of us can take action and bring about real change on the ground.”

The winners will receive their awards, including USD 15000 each in seed funding, during the Champions of the Earth Ceremony in New York City on September 26, coinciding with the annual UN General Assembly meeting and the Climate Action Summit.

Winning projects – summaries

Winner for North America – Digitally mapping the world’s biggest land owners, encouraging environment stewardship

“We are bringing the most powerful technology for large-scale property planning and sustainability to the Catholic Church, the global organization with the most land and the most people.” Molly Burhans, 30, USA

Winner for Africa – Protecting Angola’s last wild spaces and remote biodiversity hotspots

“We aim to develop a model for communities in one of the last wildlife hubs in Angola, as a tool to activate wildlife conservation, help protect one of the last wild places on earth (the Okavango Basin) and simultaneously help fight poverty.” Adjany Costa, 29, Angola

Winner for Latin America and the Caribbean – Using solar energy to purify water

“We have developed the only technology in the world for cisterns, which only needs sunlight to make rainwater suitable for consumption. It is a validated technology in the field.” Anna-Luisa Santos, 21, Brazil

Winner for West Asia – Redesigning the future of fashion with a distribution project

“The impact of dumping clothing in landfill sites is catastrophic. Natural fibers such as cotton or silk produce greenhouse gases upon degradation, while synthetic fibers such as polyester are non-biodegradable, leading to similar impacts on the environment as plastics. (This project) reuses and recycles unwanted clothes.” Omar Itani, 23, Lebanon

Winner for Asia and the Pacific – Driving an electric, female-empowered future

“Nepal has the fastest growing per capita carbon emission rate in South Asia. This project aims to make electric public transportation a quality alternative to private vehicles to combat climate change.” Sonika Manandhar, 30, Nepal (joint winner)

Winner for Asia and the Pacific – A passion for feeding the future

“This project aims to combat deforestation by reviving barren lands through tree planting, creating economic forests and nurseries, promoting fair trade and reforestation, while empowering farmers with higher incomes.” Louise Mabulo, 20, Philippines (joint winner)

Winner for Europe  – Making virtual trees a reality with educational gaming

“We have launched a website to reach more people in our reforestation efforts. In future, we are also planning to launch an educational gaming project, where your actions in virtual reality lead to tree restoration in real life.” Marianna Muntianu, 29, Russia

For more information the winners and their projects, visit the Young Champions of the Earth website at

With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2018.