Mary Robinson Climate Justice Award 2019

For the fourth year running One Young World is teaming up with Mary Robinson to support young leaders behind innovative and impactful climate justice initiatives that are preserving the earth for future generations.

The impact of climate change is not a distant threat, its effects are being felt right now by millions around the world in the form of rising sea levels, extreme weather systems and devastating droughts. The sorry truth is that those most affected by climate change are those who are least responsible for its causes and least well equipped to withstand its effects. A person living in the US creates 118 times more carbon dioxide emissions than a person living in Nauru but this small Pacific island is one of the nations at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels.

The situation might sound gloomy but the good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of people and organisations working to tackle climate change and address the global imbalance it is creating. This is the climate justice movement and One Young World is proud to be a part of it. 

If you are leading a climate justice project within your community or organisation you can apply for the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Award today for the chance to win:

  • A £5,000 grant to support or launch your project.
  • A fully sponsored delegate place to attend the One Young World Summit 2019 in London, UK. 

About the award

This year’s edition of the award seeks to support projects that focus on climate justice. 

Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.

How to apply

Applying is simple, just complete the online application form linked below before 19 July 2019. Applications will be shortlisted by One Young World and shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview with Mary Robinson and One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson who will decide the award winner.

Make sure to carefully read the criteria for entry below before you apply. 


Criteria for Entry

Most delegates are between the age of 18 and 30. The One Young World team will consider applications from those who are older than 30, pending demonstration of appropriate personal impact, initiative, and willingness to engage. We are not able to accept applications from those who will be aged under 18 at the time of the Summit.

Your project should advance the following criteria:

1) Directly addresses sustainable development and/or climate change with a particular emphasis on balancing the needs of present and future generations – this could be through financing, frontline services, advocacy, education, communication, legal/policy change or a business solution. Some indicative suggestions are:

  • A climate or development initiative that addresses poverty reduction and has included ways to measure the benefits and impacts of the initiative for both present and future generations

  • An initiative that sets out to raise awareness on the need to address the current challenges of poverty reduction while ensuring future generations enjoy the same natural and cultural resources as we do today

  • A project that sets out to conserve or sustainably manage natural and cultural heritage for use by current generations but also with a specific objective of  preserving these for future generations

  • A project or action at local, national or international level that sets out to advocate or promote the representation of future generations or act as guardians for future generations. 

2) Projects should be clearly associated with one or more of the seven principles of climate justice:

  • Respect and protect human rights

  • Support the right to development

  • Share benefits and burdens equitably

  • Ensure that decisions on climate change are participatory, transparent and accountable

  • Highlight gender equality and equity

  • Harness the transformative power of education for climate stewardship

  • Use effective partnerships to secure climate justice

3) Additional assessment criteria that will be applied in awarding the Prize are:

  • Ambition of the project – how impactful your project is in balancing needs of present and future generations

  • Relevance – the project is grounded in climate justice  

  • Community value – the project applies to a community/communities / stakeholder group who are directly impacted by climate change or will be more adversely impacted in the future

Past winners:

Waste to Opportunity: 2018 Winner

The 2018 awardee was Laura Palmese-Hernandez, 27, an environmental legal consultant from Honduras. Laura’s award winning project, “Waste to Opportunity”, seeks to empower the informal recyclers in municipal dumps around the Bay of Honduras. This is achieved by organising the workers, promoting labour safety and providing seed funds for alternative and innovative processes. Having identified the lack of organisation and capital as significant limits both the social and environmental outcomes from the work of informal recyclers, Laura began the project to push for alternative solutions that would enhancing the wellbeing and quality of life for the waste pickers while also enhancing recycling and waste management efforts.

Voices of Nature Education Programme: 2017 Winner

As one of Fundacion Para La Tierra's key programmes, Voices for Nature was founded in collaboration with an award-winning Mexican education Program 'Hunab Proyecto de Vida'. Tragically, Paraguay's primary education system has consistently ranked among the worst country's in the world. Voice for Nature was founded as a solution to this problem with an end goal of creating the next generation of environmental leaders.

Their program has been designed to build skills in children that will help them to 1) excel in the classroom with increased curiosity, interest, and discipline; 2) feel confident about expressing their thoughts and feelings to their peers and their teachers; 3) speak their minds and take action to contribute positively to their community; and finally 4) find joy in the natural world. Their curriculum has been built through the collaboration of many international organizations but always with the Paraguayan youth's perspective in mind.

#SeeingBlue: 2016 Winners

#SeeingBlue aims to train and empower young people in Small Island Developing States to become active protectors of their countries’ most valuable resource, the ocean. The project is led by One Young World Ambassadors Angélique Pouponneau, Barkha Mossae and Karuna Rana.

As the world’s main carbon sink and SIDS’ primary source of livelihood, healthy oceans are critical to turning the tide on climate change. However, it is a sad fact that there still exists a disconnect between SIDS-based youth and the ocean, as evidenced by the low numbers of them who can swim and by their limited participation in decision-making around the ocean.

#SeeingBlue’s Young Ocean Champion Award calls for project ideas that address threats to the ocean thereby incentivising young people to reflect on oceans, climate change and conservation. Winners of the award undergo an intensive capacity-building programme to enable them to bring their project to fruition. 

Learn more about climate justice  

  • Read more about climate justice principles here

Other recommended reading: