HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2020 to Hiroki Matsuhashi and Takuma Miyaki of Japan in an online ceremony during an unusual "World Water Week at Home" 25 August.
The Japanese team focused on water conservation and soil management and developed a method to control soil runoff and increase food production, using traditional Japanese soil solidification technologies.
“This system is made of only inexpensive natural materials, so it is cheap and eco-friendly. We would like to spread this system to the world and solve water and food problems," the duo said in a filmed presentation of their project, one of 29 entries for the prize.
The Stockholm jury observed that: "This year's winners have proven that simple local solutions can solve water problems in a global context. Through systematic studies the contestants have developed methods to make water conservation and soil management more achievable. The contestants effectively combined scientific knowledge and experimentation to revolutionize the way water is collected, used, and conserved for agriculture in arid regions. The technology is a low-cost, simple to implement and globally applicable method for arid region agriculture".
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize, established in 1997, drew 29 entries, even in a year with a number of unprecedented challenges including lockdowns, closed schools, economic uncertainty and worries about health safety issues.
Zoe Gotthold of the United States was awarded a Diploma of Excellence for a creative approach to limiting the impact of oil pollution in marine ecosystems.
This year, for the first time, the People's Choice Award, went to Adittya Kumar Chowdhury and Khaled Iftekhar of Bangladesh. This team have developed a low-cost method to purify water with naturally derived polyglutamic acid and Moringa oleifera seeds. The system, which securd about 60,000 votes, will enable easily accessible water purification.
In her address Crown Princess Victoria commented: “This past half-year during the Covid-19 pandemic, I have spent a lot of time reminding my children to wash their hands. At the same time around the world, 785 million people do not have access to clean water. Nor are three billion people able to wash their hands with soap and water.”
“This is just one example of how access to water is brutally unequal,” Victoria continued. “Indeed, when it comes to water, we as a world face some major challenges. There may be too little water, too dirty, or too much – all causes of disease, poverty and conflict.”