The Jakarta Post
Indonesian entrepreneurs Vania Santoso and Ranitya Nurlita have been shortlisted, along with 33 global finalists, for the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth award, the United Nation’s highest environmental honor for young people between 18 and 30 years of age.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced 10 Asia-Pacific regional finalists on Monday, comprising the two finalists from Indonesia, as well as Jayeshkumar Mevada, Purav Desai, Vidyut Mohan and Nidhi Pant from India, Ann Adeline Dumelian from the Philippines, Zahin Rohan Razeen from Bangladesh, and Jiannan Zhu and Xiaoyuan Ren from China.
The finalists were selected from more than 845 applicants for their fresh approach in tackling the world’s most critical environmental crises with innovative ideas.
Jakarta-based sociopreneur Ranitya Nurlita, 28, created Wastehub, a technology-based integrated waste management system that connects local waste collectors and users wanting to buy or sell recyclable items.
“We have worked with 1,222 scavengers in Jurang Mangu subdistrict in [South] Tangerang [Banten] and increased scavengers’ income at least by 100 percent,” Ranitya said in her pitching video, which is available on the Young Champions of the Earth’s website, unenvironment.org/youngchampions.
Established in 2019, Wastehub has managed 2,437 kilograms of waste, as well as educated more than 23,000 visitors, including volunteers and scavengers, about waste management practices.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Vania Santoso, through her start-up HeySTARTIC, attempts to accelerate corporate extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs by collecting used and rejected packaging in partnership with corporations, empowering underprivileged communities to turn the waste into high-selling products and sell the products back to the corporates as their merchandise.
“This is our chance to redefine corporate ways, right here, right now,” said Vania, who hails from Surabaya, East Java.
To date, HeySTARTIC has sold more than 5,000 products and art installations made of waste packaging, including turning cement sacks into artificial leather, sachet packaging into woven textile, milk cartons into lining material and plastic bags into crochet products.
UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cutting-edge solutions presented this year were remarkable.
“It is clear that this pandemic did not shut down the fight for a better world. Instead, it has reminded us of what’s at stake in our battle for the planet and highlights how building back better will help address the climate crisis,” Andersen said in a statement.
UNEP, she added, was committed to providing young changemakers a platform and the opportunity to make their journey a success while inspiring millions more around the world.
A global jury will select seven winners from each global region: Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and West Asia, and two from Asia and the Pacific.
The winners will be announced in September and each will receive US$10,000 in seed funding and tailored support for their ideas, including attendance at a high-level UN meeting and other access to influential networks and mentors.