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Taiwan OCA and NAAEE Announce Winners of 2023 “Youth Innovation Challenge: Saving Our Seas!”

Three outstanding young individuals from India, Nigeria, and Taiwan emerge as winners of the 2023 Youth Innovation Challenge: Saving Our Seas (YIC)! Chosen from 15 finalists, each winner receives a prize of $1,000 for their proposed solutions to address marine issues, including conservation, biodiversity, and marine debris. The Taiwan Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) through the Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP), is pleased to announce this year’s finalists and winners.
“The 2023 YIC finalists will address ongoing concerns of marine debris and incorporate two additional themes— the global 30 X 30 initiative and marine biodiversity.” Julia Hsiang-Wen Huang, the director general of the Taiwan OCA, said. “The number of submissions for this year reached an impressive 136 entries from 50 different countries, marking a significant growth compared to last year's 84 submissions from 32 countries.”
OCA and NAAEE express their admiration for the unique and innovative ideas presented by the challengers on this year's themes. They hope that the challengers will continue to pursue their innovative ideas and progressively work towards realizing their goals. "The YIC provides an amazing opportunity to recognize young leaders working to address marine issues around the world. We're excited to see the passion and ingenuity that this year’s applicants will surely bring to their communities," said Judy Braus, executive director of NAAEE.
The three winners for this year have proposed the following innovative challenges:
The Coral Conservancy: The First For-Youth By-Youth Coral Transplantation and Restoration Initiative Project in India

Ajay Sawant, India
Coral continues to decline in the Indian Ocean due to environmental degradation from pollution, harmful fishing methods, coral mining, and other factors. Ajay's innovation—a youth-led coral transplantation project in Mumbai—aims to rejuvenate the biodiversity and biomass of the adjacent waters. With a focus on addressing the critical decline of coral reefs and their ecosystem services, this project aligns with the global 30 x 30 action plan and SDG14 goals for the ocean. To achieve this goal, he and a dedicated team of passionate and trained young individuals, under the guidance of marine experts and with methodologies tailored to the Indian ecosystem, will employ advanced coral transplantation techniques to effectively restore and revive the coral reefs. Through educational programs and community outreach initiatives, this project will also inform coastal populations about the significance of marine protected areas and the importance of traditional sustainable practices.Ajay’s video: TeamUpcyclers' Ocean Restoration Challenge

Jennifer Uchechukwu Obiorah, NigeriaAfter noticing a learning gap across primary and secondary school students regarding education about SDGs, climate change, and marine debris, Jennifer came up with the idea to host an inter-school marine debris challenge in Nigeria for students with the target of reaching out to an average of 10,000 students across the federation. The "TeamUpcyclers' Ocean Restoration Challenge" would run for two months, and would include four master classes to educate the students about the SDGs, climate change, marine environments, and how to conserve the marine ecosystem and biodiversity by removing marine debris. One winning team each from the primary sector and the secondary sector and one winning team for the most creative project will receive a prize. Having already established several partnerships in the past, Jennifer and her team plan to scale this project with the aim of reaching 50,000 Nigerian students in 5 years. 
Jennifer’s video:
The Ocean Library

Keira Chen, TaiwanAs a volunteer at her local library, Keira noticed how young children are genuinely interested in reading, and how they especially enjoy the library's comfy reading corner. With this in mind, Keira came up with an innovative solution to promote ocean conservation to young children at her library by setting up an ocean-themed reading corner. The ocean-themed corner would include shelves filled with children's picture books promoting ocean protection. Soft blue pillows, colorful chairs, and marine stuffed animals would attract children's interest to read in the corner. Each weekend, a group of volunteers would have story-telling sessions to educate the children about ocean protection and discuss examples of ocean waste. The volunteers will be trained beforehand to ensure that they have adequate story-telling skills and accurate knowledge of marine life and current ocean issues. Beyond storytelling, other activities in the ocean-themed reading corner will include a small puppet show and opportunities to create artwork of marine animals and ocean protection, which will subsequently be displayed in the library ocean corner. This project aims to increase children's passion for protecting our ocean and marine animals while also empowering them with clear solutions and realistic steps to protect ocean ecosystems.
The OCA and NAAEE congratulate the winners and all participants for their concern to the marine environment and innovative thinking. They look forward to witnessing the continued impact of these initiatives on global environmental conservation efforts.
Keira’s video:
Check out 2023 Youth Innovation Challenge Winners and Finalists at: ! 
Further information:
About YIC: Youth Innovation Challenge invites applicants from 15 to 30 years of age to propose a solution to address marine issues, including conservation, biodiversity, and marine debris. Solutions can incorporate a variety of approaches but must include environmental education. Solutions must be innovative, feasible, and informed by research.
About Taiwan OCA: Ocean Conservation Administration, Ocean Affairs Council is the competent authority for implementing the Marine Pollution Control Act and the category of marine wildlife specified in the Wildlife Conservation Act. The OCA is also in charge of the businesses relating to marine nature landscapes and nature monuments as specified in the Culture Heritage Preservation Act.
About NAAEE: more than five decades, the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has served as the professional association, champion, and backbone organization for the field of environmental education (EE), working with EE professionals across United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as globally, to advance environmental literacy and civic engagement to create a more equitable and sustainable future. 

Responsible entity and spokesperson: OCA Deputy Director-General Hsin-Chen Sung
Phone: 886-7-338-2057 #262021 or 886-905-205-669
Date: November/29/2023

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2023 YIC Winners & Finalists
2023 YIC Winners & Finalists
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Ocean Conservation Administration, Ocean Affairs Council