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Apr 13, 2023 / 22:48

UNESCO Vietnam awards Youth Innovative Ideas for an Ocean without Plastic

Vietnamese young people are making efforts to protect the ocean and minimize the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

The ideas "A trading platform for plastic-recycled STEAM products" and "Floating garbage collection device" won the UNESCO prize "Youth Innovative Ideas for an Ocean without Plastic" that were awarded on April 12.

The awarding ceremony of the "Youth Innovative Ideas for an Ocean without Plastic" Award. Photo: UNESCO Vietnam

The winning teams received awards totaling VND80 million ($3,417) each. The awards will enable the teams to implement their pilot projects in the Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, which currently faces problems with plastic waste.

The award has reportedly received positive feedback from the general public and young people. Over 100 young people from 38 universities and organizations across Vietnam submitted 29 ideas.

A representative of UNESCO Vietnam said the proposals showed high diversity in both solutions approaches and participant profiles, such as gender and geography.

The jury has chosen five teams for the final round, consisting of experts in environment, plastic pollution, innovation, science, and technology. The selected teams include 3SR from the Pedagogical University of Education with the proposal "A trading platform for plastic-recycled STEAM products"; the GreenB from BTEC FPT with the proposal of "Smart trash bin - B Trash"; the Ca Voi (Whale) from Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Resources and Environment with the proposal of "Cat Ba Langur Robot - CatBaLa"; the CLEAN UED from Danang University of Science and Education with the proposal of "Floating garbage collection device"; and the Giai cuu dai duong (Ocean rescuers) from Hoang Chau Primary and Secondary School with the proposal of "Reusing plastic waste for the safety of the community".

 Annually, the world produces 300 million tons of plastic waste. Photo: AFP/VNA

It's estimated that 10% of the 3.1 million tons of plastic waste dumped into the ocean each year end up in Vietnam. By 2040, according to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the amount of plastic waste entering the aquatic environment will nearly triple without major reforms.

Recognizing the role of young people as agents of change and innovation, UNESCO Vietnam, in partnership with the Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve and with support from the Coca-Cola Foundation, launched the Youth Innovative Ideas for a Plastic-Free Ocean program in August 2022.

The program, part of UNESCO's Youth and Innovation for Ocean Initiative since 2020, aims to give young talents the opportunity to use their creative energy to propose ideas, receive technical support from top experts through a mentorship program, gain field experience, and receive financial support to pilot their initiatives in the Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve.