Kenyan Student wins Young Environmental Leader Award


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Michael Muli, 19, and student in Environmental and Bio-systems Engineering at the University of Nairobi, has Monday been named as the co-winner of the 2011 Young Environmental Leader Award during the UNEP-Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme, held in Leverkusen, Germany.
Muli received the award for his green energy project, which aims to replace firewood and charcoal used as cooking fuel in households with briquettes made from dried foliage and waste paper. The aim of the project is to reduce carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, reduce the risks to respiratory health from burning traditional cooking fuels and to create jobs and income for local residents through the production and sale of the cleaner fuel briquettes.

The Young Environmental Leader Award honours unique environmental projects that demonstrate originality, potential impact and sustainability.

The award ceremony was held on the final day of the UNEP-Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme, which brought together 47 young environmental leaders from 18 developing countries. The envoys, who are all involved in environmental projects in their home communities, were selected from some 800 applicants to take part in the environmental study tour in Germany, which focused on waste management, forests, renewable energy and other issues.

Michael Muli shares his award with three other envoys from Ecuador, Indonesia and the Philippines. The other winning projects included a household bio-gas initiative, an environmental education scheme for disabled children and a project which uses plants and algae to help remove the toxic element mercury from water.

“I was surprised but very pleased to win the award, given the high standard of the other projects put forward by my fellow envoys”, says Michael.
“The visit to Germany showed me that although we may come from very different backgrounds, the challenges faced by many developing countries are very similar, such as waste management or meeting energy needs. I came away from the programme realizing that, when it comes to sustainable development, the time for action is now.”
The four winners of the Young Environmental Leader Award receive project support worth a total of EUR 3,000 and further support in their home countries to make their projects environmentally and economically sustainable.
An independent panel of judges from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), an NGO and Bayer selected the four winners.
Launched in 1998, the UNEP-Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme aims to improve knowledge of environmental issues among young people and support them in developing and implementing projects on sustainable development, conservation and other aspects of the environment in their own communities. Some 11,200 young people have applied for a place on the programme and around 500 envoys have been selected to travel to Germany.
The Young Environmental Envoy Programme now covers 18 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Many former envoys now have jobs where they play a key role in environmental protection in their home countries. Through an alumni network on Facebook, envoys past and present can stay connected and exchange ideas and experiences on environmental protection with other green innovators around the world.






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