The Children’s Climate Prize is an international prize annually awarded to children age 12-17 who have made extraordinary efforts for the climate and environment. The prize is awarded by the Children’s Climate Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden.

This year three teenagers from India are among the seven finalists selected for the International Children’s Climate Prize which received more than 70 nominations from 24 countries. The finalists were Mumbai’s Aaday Joshi, Tiruvannamalai’s Vinisha Umashankar and Ernakulam’s Dhruv Sanjay.

The winners of this year’s Children’s Climate Prize for their sustainability projects were Vinisha, 14-year-old, who created a solar ironing cart to reduce the problem of coal burning, won the prize under Clean Air Category while 17-year-old Aaday Joshi founded ‘The Right Green’ a biodiversity project to enable communities to restore healthy ecosystems won the prize under Changemaker category.

Both of them received the award at a digital award ceremony in www.ccprize.org on 18-11-20 (today) at 2:20 PM IST.  They are presented with a diploma, medal and prize money of SEK 100,000 equivalent to Rs 8.6 Lakhs, to continue developing their projects.

The prize is founded by Telge Energi, the Swedish frontrunner in renewable energy, and it is they, in partnership with Blueair, a world-leader in air purification, that is behind the award. The award was instituted in 2016. Based on the understanding that it is the children’s future that is at stake, the prize aims to highlight the youth perspective on the issue of climate change. An official statement from the Sweden-based Children’s Climate Foundation said that there was a significant increase in this year’s nominations from the USA, India, and Mexico.

Deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change. But just randomly planting new trees can sometimes do more harm than good by reducing biodiversity. Aadya Joshi, 17-year-old, through her great understanding of the dangers of biodiversity loss and deep knowledge of the roles of plants and trees’ ability to prevent it, has through her initiative ‘The Right Green’ combined modern database technology with the traditional knowledge of native plants to empower local communities to take action. She developed a database including over 15000 plant-insect feeding relationships from different eco-regions of India. Using her newly invented BioPower Index, landscapers, gardeners and civic authorities can plant the best biodiversity supporting plants. Her educational and outreach workshops have empowered and enabled communities to restore healthy ecosystems, rich in biodiversity, while also addressing climate change.

Vinisha Umashankar, a class 9 student from Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu has designed a “Mobile ironing cart” which uses solar panels to power a steam iron box. This can be powered by pre-charged batteries, electricity, or diesel-powered generator in the absence of sunlight. The most important benefit of solar ironing cart is that it eliminates the need for coal for ironing. Solar ironing carts can save millions of trees from becoming charcoal and save the air from being polluted. The vendors can move around and offer services at the doorstep for increasing their daily earning.

Vinisha, has an inquisitive mind, likes science and technology and looks at things in a different way. She wishes to become a scientist and wish to invent a vaccine that will help protect us from catching a cold. Cold is an infection caused by 250+ types of viruses, which makes it hard to invent a single cold vaccine. Earlier she also won APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards 2019, a prestigious national innovation award for school students, for her this invention.

Talking to The Statesman about her feeling and importance of the Children’s Climate Prize Vinisha says “It was astonishing as I got the news “solar ironing cart” has won the Children’s Climate Prize. Environmental innovations such as the solar ironing cart get due recognition and this will play a crucial role in reducing environmental damage, halt climate change and pause global warming. It will also inspire students to innovate products that can help everyone to protect the environment and be kind to nature. I was happy that the solar ironing cart will become an inspiration for students to innovate more useful products”.

“The Children’s Climate Prize is very important. It is probably a unique prize awarded to environmentally conscious students from all over the world. It gives a platform for the inspired students, who have taken actions for a better environment and climate. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders. They must know what’s good for the environment, climate and people. Therefore, the Children’s Climate Prize is important for students around the world. I am sure that the Children’s Climate Prize will get grander every year. It is the Climate Nobel Prize for students! Isn’t it?”

On asking how she feels from winning a national award to an international award for the solar ironing cart, she felt amazed and told “Winning a national award and an international award for innovation is every innovator’s dream! Achieving it for the same innovation is just unbelievable. The planning and preparation is the same for both national and international competitions. But, an international competition such as the Children’s Climate Prize requires more focus and in-depth knowledge of a product such as how the solar ironing cart will impact people, environment and climate on a global level.”