2023 Youth Innovation Challenge Award
Date: November 19, 2023
The Youth Innovation Challenge (YIC) is a joint collaboration between Taiwan’s Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA), Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP), and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) launched in 2020. The aim of YIC is to empower leaders of environmental youth to address issues affecting the marine environments and ecosystems. In the third year of the program, the Youth Innovation Challenge: Saving Our Seas! invited young people between the ages of 15-30 from around the world to share their innovative solutions to protect marine resources and support people of all ages to be engaged stewards for marine conservation, using environmental education (EE) as a key component. From a pool of 136 applicants, 15 finalists were chosen to receive a certificate and global recognition through the GEEP network. Three of these finalists were selected as winners to receive a USD 1,000 prize to support their solution.
Overall, the YIC engaged young, innovative thinkers and environmental stewards to harness their creativity and passion, build their capacity to use environmental education to engage people in environmental solutions and provide resources and credibility that these leaders need to move their ideas forward. The YIC exemplifies GEEP’s and Taiwan OCA’s shared commitment to supporting and recognizing young innovators and leaders tackling environmental challenges.
Ajay Sawant | Pune, India
The Coral Conservancy: The First Youth-Led Coral Transplantation and Restoration Initiative Project in India
Coral continues to decline in the Indian Ocean due to environmental degradation from pollution, harmful fishing methods, coral mining, and other factors. Ajay’s innovation—a youth-led coral transplantation project in Mumbai—aims to rejuvenate the biodiversity and biomass of the adjacent waters. With a focus on addressing the critical decline of coral reefs and their ecosystem services, this project aligns with the global 30 x 30 action plan and SDG14 goals for the ocean. To achieve this goal, he and a dedicated team of passionate and trained young individuals, under the guidance of marine experts and with methodologies tailored to the Indian ecosystem, will employ advanced coral transplantation techniques to effectively restore and revive the coral reefs. Through educational programs and community outreach initiatives, this project will also inform coastal populations about the significance of marine protected areas and the importance of traditional sustainable practices.
Jennifer Obiorah & Team | Enugwu Agidi, Nigeria
TeamUpcyclers’ Ocean Restoration Challenge
Team members: Magdaline Chinenye Obiorah, Grace Ifunanya Obiorah, Lawrence Somtoochukwu Obiorah, Charles Ikedinachukwu Obiorah, Victor Emeka Ekemezie
After noticing a learning gap across primary and secondary school students regarding education about SDGs, climate change, and marine debris, Jennifer came up with the idea to host an inter-school marine debris challenge in Nigeria for students with the target of reaching out to an average of 10,000 students across the federation. The “TeamUpcyclers’ Ocean Restoration Challenge” would run for two months and would include four masterclasses to educate the students about the SDGs, climate change, marine environments, and how to conserve the marine ecosystem and biodiversity by removing marine debris. One winning team each from the primary and secondary sectors and one winning team for the most creative project will receive a prize. Having already established several partnerships in the past, Jennifer and her team aim to scale this project with the aim of reaching 50,000 Nigerian students in 5 years.
Keira Chen | Hsinchu, Taiwan
The Ocean Library
As a volunteer at her local library, Keira noticed how young children are genuinely interested in reading, and how they especially enjoy the library’s comfy reading corner. With this in mind, Keira came up with an innovative solution to promote ocean conservation to young children at her library by setting up an ocean-themed reading corner. The ocean-themed corner would include shelves filled with children’s picture books promoting ocean protection. Soft blue pillows, colorful chairs, and marine stuffed animals would attract children’s interest to read in the corner. Each weekend, a group of volunteers would have story-telling sessions to educate the children about ocean protection and discuss examples of ocean waste. The volunteers will be trained beforehand to ensure that they have adequate story-telling skills and accurate knowledge of marine life and current ocean issues. Beyond storytelling, other activities in the ocean-themed reading corner will include a small puppet show and opportunities to create artwork of marine animals and ocean protection, which will subsequently be displayed in the library ocean corner. This project aims to increase children’s passion for protecting our ocean and marine animals while also empowering them with clear solutions and realistic steps to protect ocean ecosystems.