WASHINGTON:Five youths from India have been named among 17 teen environmental activists from across the globe to receive the 2023 International Young Eco-Hero Award who have taken initiatives to tackle the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The young eco-warriors who were recognised for their efforts by the US-based non-profit organisation, “Action For Nature”, are Eiha Dixit from Meerut, Manya Harsha from Bengaluru, Nirvaan Somany and Mannat Kaur from New Delhi and Karnav Rastogi from Mumbai.
The International Young Eco-Hero Awards programme recognises and encourages children and teens from ages 8 to 16 who have taken action towards solving the most critical environmental issues.
The awardees are eco-conscious youth who took the crucial steps to solve tough environmental problems.
Winners of the International Young Eco-Hero Award are selected by a panel of independent judges, including experts in environmental science, biology, and education.
For the past 20 years, “Action For Nature” has recognised 339 Eco-Heroes from 27 countries and 32 US states, a media release on Tuesday said.
All of this year’s young climate champions are proving one thing loud and clear: the next generation of leaders has arrived, and they’re unleashing their power on a global scale to tackle the climate crisis head-on,” said Beryl Kay, president of Action for Nature.
“The incredible accomplishments of this year’s winners are more than just isolated projects – they’re changing lives and transforming communities for the better,” he said.
Dixit, who won first place in this year’s competition has been growing saplings to protect the environment since she was 4.
Through the Green Eiha Smile Foundation, she and a group of volunteers have planted over 20,000 saplings, creating mini forests, parks, and green belts in her Indian city, providing shade and cleaner air.
Dixit also established a plant bank at her home, using plants donated by people who can no longer care for them.
These plants are used to obtain cuttings and seeds, and other people may take these plants free of charge.
“Age doesn’t matter,” said Dixit.
“If the work is done with dedication and sincerity, then the biggest goal can be achieved,” she said.
Manya Harsha who won second place in the 8-12 year-old category has embarked on a mission to raise awareness about environmental issues and climate action.
Through her books, blog, and YouTube channel, “The Little Environmentalist”, she aims to inspire youth to take action and become environmentally conscious.
Manya engages in various activities such as walkathons, planting saplings, distributing seed balls, and organizing clean-up drives to make a positive impact on the environment.
With over 5,000 sustainable bags distributed, 3,500 saplings planted, and 3,000 seed bombs thrown, she continues to work tirelessly to create a better future for the coming generations and to protect the earth for all.
“Don’t wait for a superhero to lead the march,” said Manya Harsha. “Be one! Today’s children are tomorrow’s future,” said Manya.
Nirvaan Somany, who took second place in the 13-16 year-old category is the founder of “Project Jeans” to tackle the environmental impact of the fashion industry, specifically the waste caused by discarded denim, while also addressing the needs of the underprivileged.
He repurposes used jeans into washable and insulating sleeping bags for the homeless, reducing landfill waste and providing better protection from harsh weather conditions.
With 6,000 pairs of jeans collected and 800 sleeping bags distributed to date, Nirvaan’s initiative has made a positive impact on both the environment and the lives of those in need.
“Mindless consumerism without consideration of the environmental impact is a huge problem with long-lasting ramifications,” said Nirvaan.
“Most people only think of financial cost when making purchasing decisions, and ignore the additional hidden costs, often at the expense of the earth’s resources,” he said.
Mannat Kaur won third place in the 13-16 year-old category. Her project aims to address water scarcity and carbon emissions associated with freshwater supply and wastewater treatment.
She has designed a system to collect, filter, and reuse greywater from households for non-potable purposes, thus conserving precious drinking water.
The impact of her invention goes beyond individual households, and could potentially save thousands of litres of fresh water daily and reduce operational and infrastructure costs for the city’s sewage treatment.
“India is facing an acute water crisis. We must reduce, recycle, and reuse potable water however we can,” said Mannat.
Karnav Rastogi, 13, who received an honourable mention in this year’s competition is committed to raising awareness about and taking action to reduce plastic waste and combat climate change.
He wrote two books, “Kartik, Daddy & Plastic: A Journey About Beating Plastic Pollution” and “Kartik, Mixie & Monster: A Journey About Ocean Pollution,” to educate young people about the impact of plastic pollution and climate change, providing solutions to tackle these issues.
To date, he has distributed 5,000 copies of his books and has inspired countless young people to become champions of change.
“I strongly believe that students are the biggest champions of change, and my main goal is to create awareness among students about climate change,” said Karnav.