Nepal’s Sonika Manandhar, the winner of the UN’s Young Champions of the Earth Prize for Asia and the Pacific, is leading an initiative to capture big data from electric vehicles and cut emissions by making transportation efficient, while empowering women.
Manandhar’s solution, Green Energy Mobility, aims to make public transportation, specifically electric minibuses in Nepal known as Safa Tempos, a quality alternative to private vehicles to combat climate change. Since Safa tempos are well-known for being women-owned and women operated, her work embraces female empowerment by providing drivers with access to loans and women as customers. This has been innovated as a method of clean and safe transport after 8 p.m. when most public transport in Kathmandu close their services.
“Our vision is to help women own and upgrade their electric vehicles through low-interest impact financing,” said Manandhar. “We want to use big data to collect traffic patterns which can help city planners drive a more efficient future.”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said that the global transport sector contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. Our success in rapidly decarbonising this sector will depend on how we use data, design better cities and encourage cleaner public transport systems.
“By focusing on the role of women in the transport sector, this innovation is a welcome effort to empower women in a traditionally male-dominated society.”
Markus Steilemann, Chief Executive Officer of Covestro, said: “The business world needs fresh thinking and much more of a start-up culture to tackle global environmental challenges, while ensuring our long-term growth. The Young Champions of the Earth can help achieve this and everyone at Covestro is proud to support them. We want to help make the world a brighter place.”
A global jury, made up of Covestro Chief Executive Officer Markus Steilemann, UN Environment Programme’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya, VICE News Tonight’s science and climate change correspondent Arielle Duhaime-Ross, UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake and Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation, selected the winners among 35 regional finalists from more than 1,000 applicants. Over the next year, the creative, innovative and impactful initiatives of the winners will be documented on social media, through regular news updates and video blogs. One can sign up at https://www.unenvironment.org/youngchampions/ to follow their creative environmental journey.
The young champions from each region receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts. The prestigious Young Champions of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro, is awarded every year by UN Environment Programme to young environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30, for their outstanding ideas to protect the environment.
As world leaders gathered last week at the UN Headquarters in New York for the Climate Action Summit and General Assembly, climate and environment were at the forefront of discussions. Encouragingly, youth around the world like Sonika, are already taking action realising the urgency that there is no time to lose.
Sonika is one of seven winners from Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and West Asia. The winners received their award during the Champions of the Earth Ceremony in New York City on 26 September, coinciding with the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting and Climate Action Summit.
The Young Champions of the Earth Prize was first started in 2017, offering the prestigious and highly successful Champions of the Earth platform – with laureates including heads of state, inspiring scientists, and environmental visionaries – to brilliant young environmentalists with a vision.