On plastic and data: youth speak out at Environment Assembly

The seven Young Champions of the Earth are in Nairobi this week, attending the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly.

Hugh Weldon, whose company Evocco is developing an app that helps consumers measure their climate impact by analyzing their shopping receipt, spoke up for youth when he said that the time for business to be powered by profit alone is gone.

“Given that food accounts for a massive 26 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s critical that data is shared and can be used more efficiently to reduce waste and help consumers make smarter decisions,” he said.

Hugh Weldon's  company Evocco is developing an app that helps consumers measure their climate impact. Credit: Georgina Smith / UN Environment 

Speaking alongside Google’s programme manager for Google Ocean and Earth Outreach, Brian Sullivan among others, Weldon added that sharing data among companies is critical, helping us understand consumer behaviour and use this information for environmental protection.

“Our app gives consumers information about the climate impact of their shopping basket,” he said. “Food is something we make decisions about multiple times a day, every day—that’s a really good place for us to start tackling emissions.”

He was joined in representing youth by Young Champion of the Earth for North America, Miranda Wang. She spoke about the urgent need to devise new technology and solutions to phase out recycling plastic waste as part of a circular economy.

Banning plastic, she added, is not the only solution until alternatives are found. “Plastic is not the problem; plastic pollution is the problem,” she said, adding that bringing plastic waste into the circular economy is key for sustainability. 

Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment on a panel with Miranda Wang, Young Champion of the Earth from North America (fourth from left). Credit: Georgina Smith / UN Environment 

The Young Champions will be speaking at sessions throughout the week, after participating in a weekend bootcamp.

During the bootcamp, the seven spent time thinking about the messages that best capture what they are striving to achieve in their daily work. They also considered different audiences and how to reach them with their messages.

The seven  Young Champions of the Earth in Kenya, with the Covestro and UN Environment team. Credit: Duncan Moore / UN Environment 

The storytelling bootcamp, as well as the Young Champions’ participation at the UN Environment Assembly, is supported by Covestro, which, besides being among the world's leading manufacturers of high-tech polymer materials, also supports young entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.

The seven  Young Champions of the Earth in Kenya, with the Covestro and UN Environment team. Credit: Duncan Moore / UN Environment 

Do you want to be a Young Champion of the Earth in 2019? We encourage everyone who wants to make a difference for our planet to apply for the Young Champion of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro. Apply today! The portal is open until 31 March 2019.