On Sunday June 4th, on the eve of World Environment Day, the Awarding Ceremony for the third edition of the RE-NEW Our WORLD Student Water Innovation Challenge was held to celebrate the 2023 cohort of winners. An initiative by Water Alliance, the 3rd edition has been conducted in partnership with Emirates Environmental Group under the patronage of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
The Challenge aims to inspire students from the ages of 8 to 18 to think creatively and positively about the future of water. Participating students across the UAE have contributed with their creative ideas to shape solutions that will help mitigate local and global water challenges.
Finalists and academic members from schools in Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah attended the awarding ceremony hosted at the SEE Institute, the first Net-Zero venue in the region in The Sustainable City, Dubai. This year, a total of 791 students from 104 schools registered to compete in this challenge.
The ceremony was inaugurated by H.E. Eng. Fahad Al Hammadi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Support Services Sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
His Excellency Eng. Fahad Al Hammadi, said:“Globally, water resources are under immense pressure as a result of rising population, climate change, poor management, and unsustainable consumption. Overcoming these challenges to meet the growing demand for water without harming the environment is a priority for governments all over the world. This priority becomes even greater when we understand the instrumental role water plays in our food and energy systems.”
He added:“The UAE is well aware of the challenge. As one of the most water-scarce, arid countries in the world, the UAE developed the Water Security Strategy 2036 that aims to reduce average consumption per capita by half, all while promoting sustainable practices overall. Innovative water technologies play a significant role in meeting our target. In this context, the RE-NEW Our WORLD Student Water Innovation Challenge is a shining example of a platform that enables our promising young innovators to contribute to tackling water challenges.”
Senior category students have submitted the results of a school water research project. The winner is the UAE finalist and will represent the country at the 2023 Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition taking place in Sweden during World Water Week. The contest has been held since 1997 and attracts tens of thousands of entries from over 40 countries every year. The overall international winner receives US$15,000 and a crystal sculpture presented by HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Habiba Al Mar'ashi, Co-founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group and a member of the Sustainability Experts Network, pointed out,“EEG is looking forward to continue nurturing the talented youth in the UAE in the years to come as they incubate sustainable solutions to the global water crisis. I am sure this programme will only grow over the years to cover every corner of the country and beyond. We aim to attract students from all backgrounds and academic curricula to join this pivotal, innovative national challenge.”
“We are immensely proud of all the participating students who showed incredible passion for solving our world's many and varied water challenges,” noted Linda Merieau, Executive Director, Water Alliance.“This fills us with hope that a truly sustainable future is within our grasp thanks to this next generation of leaders.”
The winning project in the senior category intends to put an end to microbead pollution and has been presented by Sinchana Shivaprasad Hiremath from GEMS Our Own English High School in Dubai. Sinchana has initiated within her school a movement for awareness raising and actionable knowledge transfer through a novel Microplastic Radar App for the responsible use of hygiene and cosmetic products.
The second place in the senior category has been awarded to Laiba Maqbool and Rhea Johnson, students at JSS Private School in Dubai for their project combining hydroponics and algal treatment for the treatment of wastewater.
In the middle category, first place has been awarded to Aliya Nujum Navaz from Al Ain Juniors School, Abu Dhabi. Her concept consists of an AI-enabled swarm of drones designed to reduce water usage during firefighting.
The second place went to Akshita Iyer from GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai for a product concept preventing the pollution of coastal areas by cigarette butts.
In the junior category, brothers Abdulla and Hamad Said Almazrouei from Ethan Primary School in Ras Al Khaimah, won the first place. Their concept repurposes the traditional Kumbar rope material to provide a solution to water efficiency in agricultural applications.
Madhav Krishna Seshadri Sumanth from Delhi Private School in Sharjah won the second place. Madhav ideated an IoT based data collection system enabling cost analysis and encouraging conservation measures.
First place winners in the Junior and Middle categories will receive a 3,000 AED cash prize for their school to invest in a water project benefiting the entire community.
The 2023 edition has received the support of corporate partners Xylem, Axis Communications and Nestle Waters at the platinum level, Droople and No More Bottles at the silver level and KPS at the bronze level.