Congratulations, Hiroki Matsuhashi and Takuma Miyaki! The Japanese team won the 2020 Stockholm Junior Water Prize while Zoe Gotthold, USA, received a Diploma of Excellence. The People’s Choice Award went to Adittya Kumar Chowdhury and Khaled Iftekhar from Bangladesh. But competition was fierce in all categories and the Prize’s Patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden expressed great admiration for all the finalists during the award ceremony on 25 August.
The 2020 Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners
Hiroki Matsuhashi and Takuma Miyaki greatly impressed the jury with their method to control soil runoff and increase food production. In a project video they explain how they came up with the idea to use the traditional Japanese soil solidification technology Tataki.
“This system is made of only inexpensive natural materials, so it is cheap and eco-friendly. We would like to spread this system to the world and solve water and food problems,” they explain.
As students at Aomori Prefectural Nakui Agricultural Highschool in Japan, Hiroki and Takuma have had different aspects of food production as part of their curriculum, and this got them interested in the growing problem of soil erosion.
In its citation the Jury noted that: “This year’s winners have proven that simple local solutions can solve water problems in a global context. Through systematic studies the contestants have developed methods to make water conservation and soil management more achievable. The contestants effectively combined scientific knowledge and experimentation to revolutionize the way water is collected, used, and conserved for agriculture in arid regions.
The research also demonstrated soil erosion control and nutrient management to make agriculture sustainable through the method developed. The technology is a low-cost, simple to implement and globally applicable method for arid region agriculture.”
The Diploma of Excellence
For Zoe Gotthold, USA, her project started with a passion for penguins. These lovely creatures are frequently threatened by oil spills, a problem to which Zoe has come up with an innovative solution where she focuses on the emulsion that forms between spilled oil and seawater. The project is of course named P.E.N.G.U.I.N.S, Promoting Emulsion Nullification Greenly Using Innovative Nucleation Surfaces.
The jury said: “Global problems need creative solutions driven by fundamental knowledge and careful hypothesis-driven research.
This project embodies such research and could have scalable solutions to control oil pollution in marine ecosystems.
The contestant has demonstrated extraordinary knowledge and perseverance to accomplish the goal of this research.”
The People’s Choice Award
For the first time, the 2020 competition also gave the public a chance to vote for their favourite projects. This turned out to be hugely popular, with close to 60,000 votes cast and all participants receiving votes. In the end, the Bangladeshi team Adittya Kumar Chowdhury and Khaled Iftekhar turned out to have won the most hearts.
They are concerned with the high levels of water pollution in their country, especially as many people cannot afford costly techniques for water treatment. In response to that, the team developed a new and inexpensive method where water is treated through naturally derived poly glutamic acid in association with Moringa oleifera seeds as a coagulant.
The award ceremony
The 2020 finals were entirely held online, due to Covid-19. During the award ceremony, on 25 August, both Victoria Dyring from the Jury and Ania Andersch, in charge of Stockholm Junior Water Prize at the organizers SIWI, emphasized the hardships this has meant for many participants.
Ania Andersch said that she was humbled by the fact that many of the finalists’ projects were developed under the most challenging of circumstances: “Many students have had to endure lockdowns, closed schools, economic uncertainty and worries about the safety of loved ones. Still, they have kept working on their projects, on solutions that will contribute to a better tomorrow not only for themselves but for many people in their communities and across the world,” she stated.
HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Official Patron of the Prize, also who expressed great admiration for all the finalists. In a filmed statement she said that she was not surprised that many ideas that started as Stockholm Junior Water Prize projects have proved to be important innovations changing many people’s lives for the better. Turning directly to the finalists, she encouraged them to continue to be role models who inspire boys and girls all over the world to pursue their dreams.