FOUR OUTSTANDING young people have won Commonwealth Youth Awards for innovative projects that are delivering sustainable development in their countries.
The awards recognise exceptional contributions by young people whose ventures are helping their countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The regional award winners are:
Africa and Europe: Brian Galabuzi Kakembo, Uganda, turning plastics into eco-friendly briquettes (focus on SDG 8: decent work and economic growth)
Asia: Hafiz Usama Tanveer, Pakistan, bringing clean water to poor communities (focus on SDG 6: clean water and sanitation)
The Caribbean and Canada: Sowmyan Jegatheesan, Canada, providing one-stop information to prevent human-wildlife conflict (focus on SDG 15: life on land);
The Pacific: Sagufta Salma, Fiji, transforming waste into sustainable furniture (focus on SDG 12: responsible consumption and production).
More than 500 award nominations were received from 40 countries. From these, a pan-Commonwealth judging panel selected sixteen finalists.
The awards were presented during a gathering at Commonwealth headquarters in London. Recipients received a £3,000 grant for their projects. As well as the Africa and Europe prize Galabuzi Brian Kakembo of Uganda scooped the overall prize of 2020 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year for his work on transforming biodegradable plastics and organic waste into eco-friendly charcoal briquettes.
Growing up in a poor community, he set up an enterprise to educate women and young people to turn waste into wealth.
He has reached more than 800 women and young people, and 600 of them now make and sell briquettes in Uganda.
Brian said: “I want the world to see that unemployed youth is not a problem but an untapped resource that can be trained and supported to bring about a social change.”