Presenting the finalists of Children’s Climate Prize 2022

The jury has reached an agreement and appointed this year’s five finalists, all of whom make extraordinary contributions to the environment and climate. This year, the finalists come from the USA, India and Pakistan and one of them will be the winner of the Children’s Climate Prize 2022. The winner will be presented in November and will receive a diploma, medal and the prize money of SEK 100,000 awarded by the Children’s Climate Foundation.

Among this year’s nominations, contributions were received from all continents and from over 30 different countries. Young people aged 12-17 who all fight for the environment and climate through solutions that include technical innovations, entrepreneurship, activism, educational campaigns, environmental protection and business development. This year’s jury included former Children’s Climate Prize winner Vinisha Umashankar, who knows from her own experiences what winning the prize can mean.

– It was a tough decision to choose the five finalists among all the nominations, but we eventually got there. This year’s finalists are truly talented people in their own fields and in their own ways, and I do believe all five finalists are deserving of their positions, says Vinisha Umashankar. 

This year’s five finalists will each get a closer presentation of their projects during September and October. Who the winner is will finally be revealed at the beginning of November and the winner will receive a diploma, medal and SEK 100,000 in prize money to develop their project.

– I am so proud of this year’s finalists because they have all achieved great things and I know that even more great things are in store for them in the future. From the jury meeting, I take with me that it’s time to step up. These kids can do anything and so can we. I think the more people that realize this, the more change we’re going to accomplish, says Stella Axelsson, President, The Swedish Federation of Young Scientists.

Finalists 2022

Cyclo.Cloud – Upcycling of fish scale waste to adsorb heavy metals from wastewater 

Jacqueline Prawira, 17 years old from Mountain House, USA

Water pollution is one of the biggest problems that can contribute to water scarcity. Heavy metal pollution in water has grown exponentially with industrialization and most wastewater treatment plants lack procedures or legal protocols to remove heavy metals from wastewater. As a result,  toxic concentrations of heavy metals are being released into the environment where they persist for generations and bioaccumulate in the food chain. 

Jacqueline’s invention Cyclo.Cloud, utilizes fish scale waste to adsorb up to 82 % of heavy metals from contaminated wastewater. By recycling the removed heavy metals and by turning wastewater into a resource for drinking water, Cyclo.Cloud creates a circular economy that both contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Jury motivation:

Cyclo.Cloud is a fantastic example of a systemized approach where Jacqueline has created a circular economy that addresses several global challenges linked to the climate and environment. By transforming fish scale waste into a biosorbent material, she has created an easy-to-use solution that is applicable to many, both as a private person and for large companies. Thus, Cyclo.Cloud is highly scalable and, with the right distribution and partners, the potential to make a difference on a global level is great.

The Thermal Floater – converting thermal energy from the sun into electrical energy

Sparsh, 17 years old from Patna, India

Increasing levels of greenhouse gas emissions is devastating for the climate, causing higher temperatures, extreme weather and increasing the risk of wildfires, for example. The need for green and clean energy is inevitable, as it helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Thus, such solutions have a positive impact on both the environment and human health, and contribute to energy supply and development. 

The Thermal Floater is a device that efficiently converts thermal energy from the sun into

electrical energy. Sparsh’s floating invention can easily be installed on any inland or stagnant water bodies, thus it doesn’t require any dedicated land resources. The module is just 15 cm by 15 cm and can easily be connected to several units to generate even more energy. In an array of modules, the system can generate electricity up to 10 kWh per day, which is 3x more efficient than a typical solar panel of the same size. Apart from converting thermal energy, the modules also contribute to other environmental benefits, such as reducing evaporation (increasing water availability for other uses), as well as reducing algal bloom in freshwater. 

Jury motivation:

The ongoing discussions on renewable energy sources, soaring energy prices and growing electricity demand makes Sparsh’s innovation much needed. With the Thermal Floater, Sparsh has an impressive way to mitigate climate change by using thermal energy. Also, the whole idea of a floating device is great and innovative, making use of water surfaces, such as dam reservoirs, wastewater treatment ponds or drinking water reservoirs and thus reducing pressure on land resources. This solution is easy to implement and very accessible, thus it creates a huge potential globally for both households and for countries where land resources are scarce. 

PlantifyAI – a mobile application for efficient crop disease detection and treatment

Samyak Shrimali, 17 years old from Portland, USA

Crop diseases are a major threat to human food security. Around the world, substantial amounts of agricultural yield is lost due to pests, pathogens and other bacteria. This leads to a mass disruption in food supply and large amounts of unnecessary greenhouse gasses. Identifying a disease correctly is a crucial first step for efficient treatment but remains difficult in many parts of the world due to limited access to agricultural experts and professional infrastructure. 

PlantifyAI is a mobile application that utilizes deep-learning AI algorithms to efficiently and accurately detect crop diseases in plants. When detected, the app also provides treatment steps, common symptoms, and access to recommended curing products. With PlantifyAI, Samyak has provided a free, easy-to-use, and widely accessible tool, directly into the hands of the farmers, which has the potential to significantly increase global food security, and thus reduce hunger and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Jury motivation:

With PlantifyAI, Samyak has recognized a global challenge and found a solution. By using AI technology, the mobile application can be beneficial for farmers all over the world, as it provides a proactive tool that saves food resources. Samyak shows a systemized approach: detect – prevent – cure, which, given the potential scalability to adapt to different local environments, can result in great impact for both economical and social sustainability worldwide. 

Organic Fertilizer – Utilizing used up tea leaves and coffee 

Eiman Jawwad, 17 years old from Lahore, Pakistan

To keep up with a growing population, adding fertilizers to help plants and crops grow has become increasingly vital, and chemical fertilizers have been the norm for decades. However, it is proven to be harmful for the environment as it contributes to greenhouse gasses, causes algae growth in waterways and disrupts soil balance. Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, are good for the environment and maintain a healthy soil. 

Eiman has realized that used tea leaves and coffee grounds could be used as a great source of organic fertilizers. High consumption of tea and coffee results in tons of waste that often is condemned to the trash cans rather than being disposed of properly. Eiman has therefore started a movement in Pakistan, where the highly potent tea leaves and coffee grounds are collected and redistributed to the local nurseries. Apart from helping the plants grow, Eiman’s project reduces waste and helps reduce costs for the nurseries. Together with all the community engagement, Eiman has been able to collect more than 5 tons of organic fertilizers over three years, which has facilitated the growth of thousands of plants in the local nurseries and parks. Eiman has also visited over 20 different high schools to educate and engage the students. 

Jury motivation:

In a country like Pakistan where the tea and coffee consumption is very high, Eiman demonstrates a smart local solution to a global problem, which is also highly scalable to other parts of the world. In addition, Eiman is doing impressive work in engaging and making people in Pakistan aware of climate change. The need for ecological alternatives to existing fertilizers is great, and Eiman’s solution is easy to implement, has a great impact on biodiversity, mitigates pollution and is economically viable. Sometimes simplicity is key, and Eiman’s idea can be a great inspiration to others globally. 

Continuous Groundwater Monitoring with Machine Learning

Akhila Ram, 17 years old from Lexington, USA

Water scarcity is an increasing problem globally due to climate change, overpumping and poor management. As groundwater is rapidly depleted in many parts of the world, the effects can be catastrophic to local communities, to human health and to the environment. Timely, up-to-date groundwater management is crucial for maintaining the world’s water resources, but current monitoring and data networks are not able to provide sufficient or easily accessible information. 

Akhila has developed a machine learning model that uses satellite data to predict detailed changes in groundwater with high accuracy for the United States. A groundwater monitoring dashboard utilizes the model predictions to provide an accessible way for everyone to be aware of groundwater trends. With these precise measurements, local officials are equipped with the tools needed to preserve their region’s resources, eliminating excess groundwater depletion.

Jury motivation:

Groundwater monitoring is normally very costly, so Akhila’s solution could create completely new possibilities for planning and monitoring groundwater. Her work is scientifically impressive and the potential scalability of her machine learning model is huge where this kind of data is publicly available. Being able to predict and plan groundwater resources could be useful to both local politicians and to citizens, making a great impact for many. 

The Children’s Climate Prize – how it works:

  • Nominations are open from November 2021 to May 2022
  • The jury is appointed in the spring
  • The jury selects the finalists and winners
  • Finalists will be announced in September-October, 2022
  • The prize winner will be announced in November, 2022