FAQs

Entry and Submission

What is meant by a “big idea”?

Albert Einstein famously stated: “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” That is why solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges are likely to come from young people. Your fresh thinking and creative energy gives you an edge over older generations.

So what is your big idea? It might be a grassroots campaign to promote low-carbon transport; a slick app to increase ecological literacy; a tree-planting crusade to restore a degraded catchment; a festival of art showcasing nature’s marvels; a technology to save and recycle scarce water resources; a financial tool to facilitate access to clean energy; or a new method of community-based natural resource management.

Whatever your idea, it will stand apart if it speaks directly to an environmental challenge - like biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, or water scarcity; is original and innovative; and can be scaled up based on preliminary research. Be ambitious and think outside the box: Be an incubator of positive change!

Must I be studying environmental science or working in the environmental sector to stand a chance of winning?

No. We believe that anyone in any sector has the potential to become a Young Champion of the Earth.

In which world region am I competing?

UN Environment operates in six regions:  Africa; Asia and the Pacific; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; North America; and West Asia. Your country of residence determines the world region in which you compete for the prize. To identify your region, visit: http://www.uneplive.org/regionscountries    

I will be under 18 on 31 December 2018. Why can’t I apply for the Prize?

Your time will come! We know that age is just a number and it shouldn’t stop anyone from having a big idea or making a difference. However, in order for us to recognize your abilities as an environmental changemaker, we need to see hard evidence in the form of life experience and past achievements. Additionally, Young Champions will be required to travel unaccompanied to various ceremonies, training workshops and media events. 

Is there an application fee?

No. There is no cost to participate.

Can a group submit a joint application?

We are seeking to identify brilliant individuals. Your ideas may be borne out of group work and your big idea may require a group to be implemented, but ultimately prizes and mentorship - as well as promotion of your activities - will be awarded to individuals, not to groups. 

Can I submit more than one application?

Not in a single year. We encourage you to submit only your very best idea.

How to apply

How can I submit my application?

You can submit your application until 31 March 2019 via the application portal on this website. You will need to identify a referee who can vouch for the viability of your idea and for you as an individual. Once you submit your application, no further edits or changes will be possible.

Judging

How many competitors are there?

We anticipate receiving thousands of applications in the first round, from which regional finalists will be short-listed including from each of Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and West Asia. The regional finalists will be judged by a Global Jury, from which seven Young Champions of the Earth, representing each global region, will be selected.

Who will review and score my application?

Experts from UN Environment and Covestro will evaluate your application. Should you be selected as one of the 21 Regional Finalists, then you will be invited to provide further information including a short video pitching your idea. Your profile and idea will then be forwarded to a Global Jury comprising well-known public figures with environmental credentials. The Global Jury will select a total of seven Young Champions of the Earth, representing each region.

What are some of the reasons for applications being rejected?

It may be that you have not met the eligibility requirements or that your referee did not meet the specifications. It may be that you failed to submit before the deadline on 22 March 2019. Or perhaps you simply did not make the cut. Whatever the reason, do not despair. We are offering merely seven prizes in a fiercely contested global competition. For that reason, there will be many excellent projects which go unselected. 

Announcement of results

When and how will the results be announced?

If you are selected as a Regional Finalists for 2019, you will be contacted by email in April 2019. The seven Young Champions of the Earth will be notified by email in May 2019 and publicly announced soon afterwards.

Prizes and mentorship

If I win, what will be my travel obligations?

If you are selected as a Young Champion of the Earth, you will be required to travel internationally to attend the Champions of the Earth Award Ceremony, an entrepreneurship boot camp and educational tours. The precise dates and venues will be announced during the program. All travel expenses will be covered by UN Environment and Covestro. All winners must have a valid passport.

If I win, are there restrictions which limit how I can spend the prize money?

Young Champions are required to use the seed-funding to implement their big ideas. We will not be asking you to give up your day job or drop out of university, but our hope is that you will make the most of the seed funding, expert mentorship, global publicity, and access to powerful networks to become an environmental change-maker. We will also ask you to submit blogs and vlogs periodically, and that you advocate publicly, so that our audiences can follow your journey on this website. Winners will also be required to submit a final report and budget outlining their expenditures and achievements.

Are you ready to rise up?

If you have a bright vision for the future of our planet, perhaps you could become a Young Champion of the Earth!

APPLY NOW