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The Earth Prize Finalist 2024 Sensory AI (Ryan Honary from the US) presenting his wildfire prediction technology to OC Fire Department © Ryan Honary

The Earth Prize 2024 Finalists Focus on UN SDGs 6, 12 and 15
Teenage champions of change: The Earth Prize 2024 Finalists merge passion with purpose, putting the UN SDGs into practice for a sustainable tomorrow
9 Apr 2024

Geneva-based The Earth Foundation has announced the 10 Finalist submissions from its The Earth Prize 2024 competition. This cohort comprises high school teams from Canada, Egypt, New Zealand, United States, Turkey, United Kingdom and Vietnam, selected from entries by thousands of students in 117 countries and territories.

Since the first edition of The Earth Prize in 2021, this annual competition has attracted over 10,000 young participants from some 2,000 schools in 154 countries and territories, and The Earth Foundation has awarded over $500,000 to the top performing teams and their schools.

The Earth Foundation Founder and hedge fund manager, Peter McGarry, reiterated that the goal of the foundation and its prize is to “inspire, educate, mentor and empower 13-19 year old students with innovative ideas to come up with practical and commercially viable solutions to environmental sustainability challenges.”

Foundation CEO Angela McCarthy noted that, “This goal tends to focus young minds and imaginations on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 14 (Life below water) and SDG 15 (Life on land).”

This observation is borne out by the projects submitted by this year’s 10 Finalists:

The Earth Prize Finalist 2024 MycoFlo (team member Rajas Nanda from the UK) demonstrating their MycoBot river quality © Rajas Nanda

SDG 6

The team calling itself “Mycoflo” from Eton College in the UK has developed a Mycofiltration system to address water pollution in the Niger Basin which threatens agriculture, industry and a million lives, especially from heavy metals. Its test-proven invention, “MycoSacks”, combines native spores and organic materials with an automated robot equipped with AI for cost-effective water filtration.

SDG 12

The “Environmental Saviors” team from Sharkiya STEM School in Egypt offers a project to address both food waste and a shortage of agricultural fertilizer. Its accelerated organic waste decomposition system using temperature and moisture control produces high quality organic fertilizer.

The “BioTex” team from The Knowledge Society in Canada has turned its attention to the “staggering daily accumulation of textile waste” in Kenya’s vast Dandora Landfill. Their plan is to incentivize textile recycling by compensating collectors based on the amount of cotton waste they gather, and leverage enzymatic cotton recycling technology to convert the cellulose into glucose, a valuable feedstock for biofuels, and thereby useful as a revenue stream for local communities.

The “CocoMellow” team from i-IVY in Vietnam deplores the “staggering environmental problem” caused by the planet’s daily disposal of 250 million non-biodegradable plastic baby diapers into landfills. Their solution is a sustainable and affordable new diaper product made from repurposed coconut coir and banana fiber, which are eco-friendly materials and kind to babies’ skin.

Eton College in the UK wants to attack the inefficiency of allowing over 120 million consumer graphics cards (CPUs) to lie idle, leading to unnecessary excessive energy consumption. The “Pebble” team’s solution is to pool these underutilized CPUs into a unified network so that through their platform, contributors can rent out their computers. This will optimize resource usage, and democratize access to high-powered computing.

HiveHealthy’s Vince Wu standing by his honeybee hives © Vince Wu

SDG 15

The “HiveHealthy” team from Crimson Global Academy in New Zealand puts “the indispensable honeybee” to the fore. Bees are the world’s primary pollinators and sustain 35% of the global food supply, yet their survival is threatened by climate change and pesticides. Its solution is an innovative honeybee hive health monitoring system equipped with internal and external cameras, sensors and a mobile app to provide timely alerts.

Newport Harbor High School in the US proposes its “Sensory AI” early warning system for natural hazards caused by climate change, like wildfires and landslides, which put vulnerable communities at risk. Its AI-enabled miniature meteorological stations equipped with a variety of sensors can predict and detect natural hazards, and trigger alarms, even in remote areas.

The “FloodGate” team from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in the US addresses the “critical need for accessible flood prediction” on behalf of over 250 million people, millions of acres of land, billions of dollars of property, and thousands of miles of roads in vulnerable communities around the world. The team’s solution is a cost-effective, user-friendly web-based application using advanced computational models to predict flood patterns.

The “Ceres” team from Bahcesehir Koleji Diyarbakir in Turkey addresses the 80% decrease in crop production in the Mesopotamia region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers due to climate change, drought and pollution. Its solution is to “harness the power of plasma, the fourth state of matter”, to treat seeds, thus enhancing germination and growth, leading to better plant health and reproduction as a means to mitigate crop loss and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers.

The Palmer Trinity School “Falcons” in the US are alarmed by soil depletion in Central American countries brought on by deforestation, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, thus threatening food security. The team proposes a social enterprise which will deploy Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) tailored to local soils, and when combined with biochar, enhances soil fertility, promotes resilient crops, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

Prize Day

CEO McCarthy stated that The Earth Foundation will announce the Winning team and the three Runners Up teams on Earth Day, April 22nd, via an Awards Ceremony which will be live streamed across YouTube, X and Instagram. She added, “The Earth Prize initiative is having a catalytic effect. As more young people are encouraged to engage with environmental issues and develop their own solutions, we can expect to see a wave of positive change sweep across the globe”.

To enquire about collaborating with The Earth Prize 2024 Finalist teams, please contact info@theearthprize.org.

* John G McCarthy is an Arabic book publisher in Geneva
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