With drought, flooding and pollution, the world’s water challenges are intensifying, but this year’s finalists in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, sponsored by Xylem, show that the next generation of innovators have the talent and passion to make a real difference. Vote for your favorite project for the People’s Choice Award by August 15 to support these student water and sustainability champions.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize calls on students aged 15 to 20 from around the world to discover new ways to solve local and global water challenges. This year’s finalist projects cover a wide range of challenges, including microplastic pollution, agriculture and irrigation, and access to sanitation and clean drinking water.
The Stockholm International Water Institute created the prize in 1997, with Xylem as a proud founding sponsor – part of Xylem’s commitment to engaging and inspiring youth to help solve the world’s water challenges. The winning projects will be announced on August 30, during World Water Week in Stockholm, including the winner of People’s Choice Award. Remember to vote by August 15! Vote here.
Here are just five of the 36 innovative projects you can vote on:
1. Discovering two enzymes that can degrade PET plastic
By 2050, 12 billion tons of plastic will end up in landfills or in the environment, especially in bodies of water. The finalist project from a high school student in Mexico presents two enzymes that can degrade plastic, even at high temperatures.
“I refuse to live in a world in which there is more plastic in the ocean than fish, so I knew that I had to do something about it,” writes finalist Alonso Hernández Velázquez. “I thought the best way to contribute in order to solve this problem was through science.”
2. Developing an early detection tool to assess drought stress in crops
Two students from the United States, Pauline Victoria Estrada and John Benedict Estrada, developed a system that can predict the earliest signs of drought stress to help farmers conserve irrigation water without sacrificing their yield.
“In the United States, specifically California where I live, drought is a huge problem that is worsening with climate change,” writes Pauline Victoria Estrada. “I believe using artificial intelligence to detect drought stress in crops can help ensure food security and conserve water.”
3. Creating a water purifier powered by solar energy
The finalist project from a student in Nigeria presents a water purifier that runs on solar energy, with the objective of reducing water insecurity, improving water sanitation, and eliminating the spread of water-borne diseases.
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2021 reported that over 86% of Nigerians lack access to safe drinking water,” writes finalist Iheanyi Favour Chisom. “I saw the need to create an environmentally friendly solution to the water pollution challenge in my community.”
4. Inventing a sustainable sanitary pad that requires less water to produce
For the finalist project from Brazil, students Camily Pereira dos Santos and Laura Nedel Drebes wanted to solve three challenges related to conventional sanitary pads: water use, water pollution, and lack of access to sanitary pads.
“Through science, I discovered the path by which I would not only be a spectator but someone who can contribute to finding solutions to the world’s problems,” writes Camily Pereira dos Santos. “I am interested in gender issues, in the fight for a more environmentally friendly world, and I recognize the importance of education in the formation of students not only academically but as human beings and global citizens.”
5. Preventing soil salinity for sustainable agriculture
In arid and semi-arid regions, soil salinization can limit agricultural production. In the finalist project from Japan, students Yuki Terasawa and Mizuho Nakai developed a low-cost, water-efficient salinity prevention system.
“We have learned that there are many countries in the world that have salt damage problems,” the finalists write. “Therefore, we considered some effective methods to suppress salt accumulation. Eventually we reached the capillary barrier technology used in ancient burial mounds in Japan to prevent rainwater penetration.”
Engaging young people to solve water issues
At Xylem, we recognize the vital importance of engaging young people in education, innovation and community service to prepare the next generation of young talent to solve water issues. We do this by partnering with youth-focused organizations, such as SIWI’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize and EarthEcho International, through our partnership with City Football Group to connect with young football fans on water and sustainability issues, and through our Xylem Ignite youth program.
Vote for your favorite 2022 student water innovation project here.
Learn how Xylem Ignite is empowering student leaders to drive real changes in the water industry.