Global non-profit The World Around has announced the three winners of its first ever Young Climate Prize competition, which include a database designed to improve climate literacy and a project that sees plastic waste turned into bricks and paving tiles.
The World Around’s main focus is making design and architecture accessible to all. The competition comprises three categories – Young Climate Designer, Younge Climate Voice and Young Climate Visionary.
The winners were chosen by a roster of seven judges based around the world, including the Design Museum London’s head of curatorial Priya Khanchandani, Meta’s lead on positioning and transparency for sustainability Marlo Tablante and NLÉ architecture and design practice founder and principal Kunlé Adeyemi.
The were 25 finalists in the competition, all under 25 years old and from diverse geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The three winners will present their projects in person at The World Around Summit 2023 taking place at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on 22 April.
Young Climate Designer
Foday David Kamara aged 22 from Sierra Leone won the Young Climate Designer Prize with his project EcoVironment, which seeks to address the environmental issues caused by post-consumer plastic and unsustainable waste management practices in urban areas of Sierra Leone. Kamara explains how EcoVironment uses “an innovative indigenous plastic extrusion technology” to turn plastic waste into eco-friendly bricks and paving tiles.
Plastics extrusion is a manufacturing process that involves “melting polymer materials with desired additives and forming them in a continuous process”, says Kamara. After identifying viable plastic waste materials, Kamara says the plastic extrusion process shapes it into the desired product, which is then tested “for durability and other performance characteristics”.
The result is durable, eco-friendly bricks and tiles that can be used in any conditions and are “three times stronger than conventional cement bricks”, according to Kamara. He adds that it also reduces the cost of acquiring construction brick by 25%, as there are no import costs.
Ecovironment also employs marginalised youth and women from underserved communities, who are tasked with collecting the plastic waste. Aiming to recycle as much as one million tons of plastic waste and reduce plastic emissions in Sierra Leone by 1,500 tons, Kamara also hopes to create 2,000 green jobs for youth and women.
Next steps for the project include scaling up production – which would mean investing in new equipment and technology and partnering with organisations that can source more plastic waste – and developing new products, such as building insulation or roofing tiles. Research and development will also play a key role in Ecovironment’s future, says Kamara, adding that “a crucial next step” is to develop a robust marketing and sales strategy” and increase visibility.
Young Climate Visionary
Karachi Cartography aims to address Karachi’s infrastructure issues, which are exacerbated by the continuous heavy rainfall, flooding and drought in Pakistan. It was designed by 25-year-old architectural designers turned activist Namra Khalid, who came up with the idea in August 2020, when she began questioning why Karachi’s infrastructure cannot cope with heavy rainfall, while other cities, such as Lahore, Chittagong, Delhi, London, and New York, receive more rain but continue to function normally.
To decipher the city’s “infrastructural mayhem”, Khalid says she launched a “social media open call” to try to attain more maps of Karachi as well as spatial data, receiving over 100 contributions. “By collecting and analysing cartographic data, we are aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of the city’s infrastructure problems, from water scarcity and urban flooding to heat islands and so much more”, she explains.
The Karachi Cartography team are currently designing three separate resources.
The Open-Access Map Repository, which Khalid describes as “the first socio-climatic map of the urban area in its entirety”, will seek to reveal the infrastructural evolution of the city to help to inform future projects. Karachi Cartography will also create the digitized Katchi Abadi Map for Karachi, which will help to determine the communities most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Khalid says that they are also developing the One-Stop Climatic Map that will “highlight location-based susceptibilities to weather-related events”.
The team is also working on a Karachi climate illustration book for children aged 5 to 10 and will be running an internship program with university students this summer.
Karachi Cartography’s next goal is to “establish itself as an organization that empowers the city’s most vulnerable communities to build resilience against the harsh realities of climate change”, says Khalid. To be able to continue “bridging the gap between research, design, and implementation”, Khalid adds that they need to find a more sustainable funding model so that the team can be paid and projects can be upscaled.
Young Climate Voice
Developed by 24-year-old Pamela Elizarrarás Acitores from México, Climate Words aims to promote and improve climate literacy. Acitores found through a 2021 survey that less than 15% of respondents in Germany, France, Italy, UK, and the US were climate literate. This means that fossil fuel corporations, politicians and polluting industries can misuse words “to suit their agendas” as well as “spreading confusion and pushing false narratives”, she says.
Climate Words invites authors, scientists, designers, and policymakers to define words “in their own voice” in a bid to “capture the evolving nature of language” to give people a better understanding, says Acitores. The output is what she describes as “a searchable online database of words, books and stories”.
The Climate Lexicon comprises word definition entries co-edited by Climate Words writers alongside an images by its creative director and photographer and three key resources for further learning. Climate Books functions as an online bookshop stocked with climate related literature.
Acitores hopes that it will be become a valuable resource for public sectors, private sectors, organizations, schools, families and individuals.
A special Jury Prize was awarded to 24-year-old Nigerian poet Aziba Ekio, who shed light on the climate crisis through writing and spoken word. Ekio worked with architecture and research Counterspace founder and director Sumayya Vally on the project.