climate prize

San Carlos, Calif.-based 17-year-old Yash Narayan (left) and Reshma Kosaraju, 15, from Saratoga, Calif., are among the finalists for the 2021 Children’s Climate Prize. (photos provided)

Five talented teenagers, two of whom are Indian American, and one is of Indian-origin, are showing the world innovative ways to fight the climate crisis.

Reshma Kosaraju, 15, from Saratoga, Calif.; 17-year-old Yash Narayan, from San Carlos, Calif.; and Anjali Sharma, 17, from Melbourne, Australia, are among the five finalists for the 2021 Children’s Climate Prize.

Kosaraju was chosen for her project titled, “AI against forest fires – Where technology predicts and limits the damage of forest fires.”

In selecting her, the jury noted that this is an example of an extraordinary and creative solution based on a systemized approach.

Climate change and forest fires mutually reinforce each other and wildfires, today, are in many locations larger, more intense and longer lasting, it said.

“Forest fires have increasingly become a global and topical issue. Reshma represents the best of youth entrepreneurship: brave, innovative and solution-oriented. Her model uses AI and technology in an innovative and savvy way in order to accurately predict the risk of forest fires while also accounting for the independent variables of climate, weather and human behavior. A clear and scalable business concept, with a global approach to accessibility,” the jury added.

While selecting Narayan’s project, “DeepWaste – Technology for better and more precise waste classification,” the jury underscored the fact that every year, a lot of unsorted waste is thrown away that is deposited or burned, which contributes to unnecessary emissions and added that this is a “huge problem” and represents a “challenge for our societies” in order to achieve effective waste management.

“Correctly sorted waste becomes a resource and forms the basis for the circular flow of resources. This is a measure that is absolutely necessary in order to achieve more sustainable consumption and is an example of something that we can all contribute to,” it stated. “A resource-efficient circular economy can be perceived as complex and difficult, but here Yash has found a good and interesting solution with great innovation.”

Lauding Narayan’s “impressive” project, the jury called it “self-teaching, accessible, scalable,” adding the development potential is enormous. “Yash and DeepWaste are right on time and contribute to increased awareness and knowledge,” it said.

Sharma was chosen for her project, “Class-Action Environment Minister – Tackling climate change in the courtroom.”

“Too often, policymakers and leaders make decisions based on short-term financial considerations, even if that can have major negative impacts over a longer period of time. The result may mean that future generations will have to bear the costs. Anjali is a colorful example of the power that more and more young people are flexing to achieve change,” said the jury. “And it also shows how young people can challenge entire industries and sectors by using the law. Anjali’s ability to mobilize is impressive and representative of a growing phenomenon in the world.”

It takes courage to challenge the current power and established structures and succeed in achieving a “duty of care” in a fossil fuel-heavy country such as Australia, it said, pointing out that Sharma is a “major pioneer” and her legal wrangling is historic in Australia.

“She is an inspiration for how young people can press for tangible changes and is therefore a role model for others,” it added.

The winner be announced Nov. 8 and will receive a diploma, a medal and financial support of SEK 100,000. The award is handed out by the Children’s Climate Foundation, an initiative of Swedish renewable energy company Telge Energei.

Award-winning Indian wildlife photographer Aishwarya Sridhar, 24, who was part of this year’s jury team, said, “I was totally blown over by the ingenuity and practical application of each of the finalist’s projects. Each of them through their projects have addressed real problems which are plaguing our world and they are working to create impactful solutions.”

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