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

PCDN Global

April 8, 2020

Dare to Invent the Future: Apply to be a UN Young Champion of the Earth

  • United Nations Environment Programme launches 2020 Young Champions of the Earth prize
  • Competition open to environmental entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age
  • UNEP accepting applications from 10 February to 10 April 2020

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has officially started accepting applications for the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth prize.

The global competition is one of the UN’s most prestigious prizes for young environmental entrepreneurs who have big ideas to solve the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Winners selected from seven regions spanning the globe will receive seed money to invest in their projects, as well as mentorship and the opportunity to attend high-level UN meetings to share their innovations with the world. UNEP will follow them on their journeys and provide updates on their progress as they implement their big ideas.

“This programme can really open doors for you,” said Arpit Dhupar, 2018 winner for the Asia and the Pacific region, for his novel technique to control emissions from diesel generators. “If you’re young and you’re passionate about the project you’re working on, the Young Champions of the Earth programme can help you get there and spread your message to as many people as possible."

With climate change threatening the existence of our natural ecosystems and societies, UNEP seeks to support young visionaries who recognize the scale of the global environmental crisis and have the courage to find innovative solutions – many of which use nature itself – to build a healthier planet.

“Young people are at the forefront of climate advocacy, challenging their governments, businesses and decision-makers to step up action to ensure they can have a healthy future in a sustainable world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “It is deeply inspiring to see young people also innovating and finding solutions to the environmental challenges around them; I have great respect for the winners – and all the competitors – of the Young Champions of the Earth prize for their work towards a greener, cleaner planet.”

Previous Young Champions of the Earth winners have spearheaded bold, brave ideas to address critical environmental issues and the Sustainable Development Goals through high- and low-tech innovations. Last year’s winners included an Angolan ethno-conservatist working with communities to conserve the Okavango, one of the world’s last remaining wild spaces, a Nepalese software engineer who aims to make electric public transportation a quality alternative to private vehicles, and a Lebanese industrial engineer who works with students and refugees to reuse and recycle unwanted clothes.

Applications for the Young Champions of the Earth will be subjected to a global jury tasked to select seven winners from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and West Asia


Environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30 should submit their big idea by midnight GMT on 10 April 2020.

About Young Champions of the Earth

Young Champions of the Earth is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of brilliant young environmentalists. It celebrates young people who have a big idea to protect or restore the environment, a vision for a more sustainable future and a strong track record of instigating change.

About UNEP

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages 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. UNEP works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

Selection process

The selection process has three rounds:

  1. The open call for applications will run until 30 April 2020. Each applicant will be required to submit responses to a series of questions and upload a referee’s letter of endorsement.
  2. Finalists drawn from every world region will be shortlisted and requested to submit short videos pitching their big ideas.
  3. In the final stage, a Global Jury will review the finalists’ big ideas and choose seven Young Champions of the Earth. The winners will be publicly announced and invited to attend the Champions of the Earth award ceremony.

The winners will be expected to implement their big ideas and act as ambassadors of cause at speaking opportunities, while providing regular progress updates in the form of videos and blogs that will be shared on this website.


The Prize

  • Seed funding
  • Tailored training and mentorship
  • A global platform
  • Access to UN networks
  • International media coverage
  • A community of change-makers

What makes a Young Champion of the Earth?

Our environment is under stress and the evidence is everywhere. It’s in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. It’s in our soils, rivers, oceans and atmosphere. Some call it the defining challenge of our time.

The question is: What are you doing about it? Now more than ever, those of us who care for the natural world must stand up and be counted. Whether you’re an activist, educator, innovator or artist, we need you to challenge the status quo and fight for the health of our planet and its people.

If you have a powerful idea to protect or restore the environment; if you have a strong track record of instigating change; if you are unafraid of failure; and if you believe in a bright future for our planet, then you just might have what it takes to become a Young Champion of the Earth.

Selection criteria

In the first stage of the selection process, all applications will be judged by United Nations experts according to the following criteria:

  1. The 3 Ps – The positive impact your big idea could have on the environment (planet), society (people) and its financial viability (prosperity).
  2. The 3 Cs – Evidence that you are a curious, courageous and colourful individual.
  3. Demonstrated commitment – It is important that you have already attempted to implement your big idea for at least six months and can outline achievements and developments to date.
  4. Endorsement – The strength of your referee’s recommendation.
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