This award recognises a young person who’s developed practical sustainable solutions and has helped a community to improve its environmental issues. It is given to someone who has the potential to be a future environmental leader.
Open to individuals who are 30 years or younger, living in NSW. Individuals can be nominated by a third party or self-nominate.
Anika Molesworth: Climate Wise Agriculture
Anika Molesworth, 30, comes from a farming family in NSW, giving her firsthand knowledge of adversity for farmers, and the need for agricultural sustainability.
After seeing her family’s sheep farm struggle through a decade-long drought, she focused her education and began a career building resilience in fragile farming systems.
She now works to promote and advocate for sustainable agriculture and vibrant rural communities.
International challenges are on the agenda, she spends some of her time in Southeast Asian rice paddies researching agricultural development.
Anika is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming, environmental conservation and climate change action. She helped found Farmers for Climate Action, and connects land managers to researchers through her platform Climate Wise Agriculture, helping build resilience into farming communities.
She is also keenly interested in the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and manages the International National Trusts Organisation's Sustainable Farms program.
Recognition has come through awards including 2015 Young Farmer of the Year, 2017 NSW Finalist for Young Australian of the Year, and most recently the NSW Young Achiever Award for Environment and Sustainability.
Her leadership, communication skills and commitment to taking information out of lofty institutions to share where it’s needed is highly commendable.
Angelina Arora: School Student
With growing international concern about plastic waste in our ocean, it’s amazing to think that one 15 year old Australian student has potentially found the solution.
Angelina Arora is in Year 11 at Sydney Girls High and is a fine young environmental scientist and innovator.
She was practically born with a desire to preserve the environment – it’s been her lifelong passion. And when she created a plastic that is made of natural waste products, is clean to produce, and decomposes 1.5 million times faster than conventional plastic, she set out to share her discovery with the world.
Her plastic is made from waste shrimp shells and silk cocoons, and Angelina believes the idea could be adopted for worldwide use, reducing waste and saving the lives of sea creatures who may choke or suffocate when they encounter plastic bags.
Recognition has come in the form of science awards at national and international level, giving her a platform to promote her product and raise more awareness.
Some of the other research she has done includes examining over 80 samples of different species of fish for micro plastics which could potentially be entering our food chain.
She is willing to lead the charge of young people doing something to change the way our world is going and pave the way towards a greener future.
Arlian Ecker: Plastic Free Boy
Plastic Free Boy is creating a movement to save turtles and other marine life from plastic. He's been featured on ABC’s Behind the News, Dirtgirl and Channel 10’s The Project.
In the 22-minute film Plastic Alarm, created by 12 year old Arlian Ecker, Plastic Free Boy targets kids, motivating them to learn about the problem of single use plastic in our oceans, and empowers them to make change to help create a waste-free future.
Importantly, Plastic Alarm has been seen thousands of times, through schools and children’s media. It communicates the problem of plastic in the ocean – without action, it won’t go away, and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Kids and youth can make this a fun and cool movement, led by Plastic Free Boy.
The film is described as the perfect catalyst for students to look at the issue of plastic waste and then develop some strategies around reductions, avoidance, reducing plastic litter in school, the street and thus the waterways and ocean.
The film screenings raise money for schools and improve on their waste management – for example, a Brisbane school is spending it on reusable cups for the canteen.
Arlian, assisted by his mother who is a professional filmmaker, shows an impressive commitment to an educational initiative to encourage other young people to care about the environment and plans to make this an ongoing media channel for his followers. Learn more at Plastic Free Boy.
Charlotte Rose Mellis: VOPO Earth
Sustainability is Charlotte Mellis’ passion.
As an avid diver, nature lover and traveller, she saw that something needed to be done to counteract human impacts on our oceans and waterways in the name of progress.
Under the umbrella of VOPO Earth, Charlotte, 27, is forging ahead with her belief that sustainability can – and must – be lucrative.
VOPO Earth reaches out to communities, stimulating projects to protect nature, enhance quality of life and provide economic security. These projects, Wild Enterprise (remote business), Rogue Plastic (waste management) and Moana (marine ecology) serve as the foundation for VOPO Earth, run by a team of experts in business, psychology and waste management.
Over the last four years, she has addressed a global community of 40,000 to raise awareness of ecological challenges, and has addressed TEDx Tahiti on the relationship between human mental wellbeing and climate change. She works with the Global Sisters network of female entrepreneurs to improve sustainability in Australia and internationally.
Charlotte describes herself as being fascinated by human connection with nature and slightly obsessed with enhancing how humans relate to our world. Her work explores the meeting of culture, nature, tech and enterprise from a psychological lens.
The goal is to scale VOPO Earth, with locally run hubs across the world.