Following a long and extensive deliberation process by a global panel of experts, the finalists for the prestigious University-led annual St Andrews Prize for the Environment have been announced. The prize, which was established in 1998 and receives entries from across the globe, recognises projects which combine significant contributions to environmental issues with sustainable and community-enhancing practices. The winning team is rewarded with a cash prize of $100,000 USD whilst the runner(s)-up will also be the recipients of $25,000 USD.Since its inception, the prize has awarded an amount totalling over $2million USD to both local and global initiatives worldwide, covering issues ranging from food security to renewable energy and community education.
The most recent winner of the competition in February of last year was Saathi, a project which produces eco-friendly, 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads in the Indian state of Gujarat using agricultural waste from banana tree farmers as a raw material. The Saathi pads enable girls and women in rural Jharkhand to have access to clean, biodegradable menstruation products. Kristin Kagetsu from Saathi was presented with the winning prize of US $100,000 at a ceremony in St Andrews.
The three finalists for the 2020 prize this year are: Dirty Girls of Lesvos, Conservation Through Public Health (CPTH) and The SmartFish Group. Dirty Girls of Lesvos collect quality clothing abandoned by forced migrants arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos redistributing them to those in need. Thus far they have halted over 1200 tons of material going to landfill.
Conservation Through Public Health (CPTH) is a group based in Uganda which aims to help ensure that gorilla and wildlife conservation is compatible with local human populations and their livestock in several of Africa’s most threatened national parks. Through their work they have been able to help increase the local populations of mountain gorillas whilst simultaneously helping local communities.
Meanwhile, The SmartFish Group provides commercial support for responsible artisanal fisheries products in Mexico, rewarding fishermen who pursue environmental and social values as part of their fishing. In doing so they are helping communities work towards fulfilling four of the UN’s sustainable development goals: zero hunger, responsible consumption and production, life below water and partnerships for the goals.
Each finalist will give a presentation at a University seminar on Thursday 27th February with the winner announced later the same day. The judges will decide which project wins according to which they believe displays the best combination of science, economic realism and sustainability.