Mary Robinson announces Climate Justice Award Winner at #OYW2018

One Young World is proud to announce  Laura Palmese-Hernandez of Honduras as the third recipient of the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Award! Selected out of three finalists, Laura will be awarded £5,000 to support her project. She also received a fully-sponsored delegate place for the One Young World 2018 Summit in The Hague.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and  Chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, shared the news at the One Young World 2018 Closing Ceremony held at the Circustheatre in The Hague, Netherlands.

The annual Award supports young leaders behind innovative and impactful climate justice initiatives that are preserving the earth for future generations. 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. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.

An environmental legal consultant, Laura’s winning initiative is ‘Waste to opportunity’ which seeks to empower the informal recyclers in The Bay Islands of Honduras. Recycling, a popular solution for waste reduction, is 100% performed by the so-called waste-pickers, who are actual recyclers as they initiate the recycling process by recovering the materials from everyone's garbage bags. They do it manually in terrible conditions under the sun, without working safety measures. They are poorly paid because of the intermediaries involved and do not have the support of the authorities or corporations who produce the material. Recycling needs to continue but not under the same conditions.

This project aims to empower the informal recyclers for their work by organizing them, promoting labor safety, providing seed funds, logistical support, alternative processes and public recognition. Laura and her team will also demand the authorities to enact regulations that make corporations accountable for the recycling costs and to promote a policy that involves the public in waste reduction and separation practices.

There are two differences between the recycling companies and the informal recyclers: organisation and capital. The informal recyclers lack both. The municipalities can promote organization and the companies can provide the capital for industrialisation. The civil society can push for these two things to happen and propose innovative solutions for waste management, focusing on reducing and recycling, to prevent pollution that will last across generations.

The project will support a vulnerable sector of the population and the economy that has a huge impact in the local quality of life and the bigger businesses that rely on the beauty of the touristic destination. The benefits are not only social but also environmental: the project will increase the recycling rate, which will reduce the amount of trash disposed in open dumps and that can potentially end in the ocean. The project will also have an impact in the economy, as it will foster a profitable activity from which other businesses can take the example and propose new services and processes.

Congratulations Laura!


A relentless advocate for climate justice, Mrs Robinson was the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa as well as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change (August 2014 – December 2015 ) In May 2016 the UN Secretary-General appointed Mrs Robinson as a Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate.

Mrs Robinson has served as a Counsellor in One Young World Summits: 2014 in Dublin and 2016 in Ottawa.

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