Three young people announced as winners of Commonwealth-wide competition on Ocean protection

07 March 2023
3 Winners

Three Commonwealth young people have been announced as winners of a global competition designed to inspire, empower, and reward young people taking action on oceans.

The #YouthLeadSDG14 Action Challenge launched, by The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, and the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) at COP27, saw over 131 young people from across the Commonwealth document and share their involvement in actions to protect the environment and promote the sustainable use of oceans.

This year’s winners are:

  • Sufyan Binyamin (Nigeria)
  • Nayab Zahra (Pakistan)
  • Adebola Adewale (Nigeria)

The panel of judges were extremely impressed by the 190+ action submissions received from 23 Commonwealth countries.

Over the course of the coming weeks, CYCN will be highlighting some of the noteworthy entries on their social media channels. Young people are being given a spotlight this year as 2023 marks the Commonwealth Year of Youth.

Azeez Abubakar, CYCN Partnerships and Engagement Chair, said:

“A huge congratulations to our three winners. Each captured the judge’s attention with their creative ideas, commitment, and dedication to addressing climate change and protecting our environment and oceans.  

“We believe that youth-led action on SDG14 can have a significant impact on efforts to protect the blue economy. Young people deserve to be celebrated for the work they are doing towards building a stronger, more prosperous, inclusive and climate safe future for all.”

Meet the winners

The three winners were selected based on the originality, sustainability and scalability of their work, the innovative and creative powers in their actions, and the impact they had. Each has won a £1,000 prize.

Nayab, from Pakistan, created a digital art piece to raise awareness of the impacts of ocean acidification on biodiversity and the ecosystem.

She is a student of STEM with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She won the 2017 Jabir ibn e hayan Award for her practical and theoretical demonstration of the eradication of plastic components by driving natural use of polyolefin as a plastic substitute. In 2020, she won Al Farabi Medal for her prototype on conventional medicine using an AI named bio conductor modular. In 2022, she was awarded the prestigious IFSPD Fellowship by the Governments of Sweden and Norway as an official research member. She also won the National Youth Award 2021 in the category of literature, education, technology, and innovation from the Government of Pakistan.

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Sufyan, from Nigeria, shared the recipe for a food dish made from invasive species with his family and friends.

He is a young changemaker passionate about SDG14. He is the Founder and CEO of Aqualife ifarms, a Bluetech and agri-tech startup that deals in Blue economy and agribusiness. He is also a final year undergraduate student of plant science at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria.

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Adebola from Nigeria also created a digital art piece to show the impact of plastic pollution on the marine ecosystem and stress the need to end it.

Adebola is a student of Fisheries in her penultimate year. She is the co-founder of the Lagos Plastic Revolution (Winner of the 2022 Millennium Oceans Prize) and a member of the National Association of Fisheries Students. Adebola volunteered in various activities geared towards ocean sustainability, such as partnering with the green janitors on World Clean Up Day in 2022. Her team partnered with the Campus Recycling Champions, a student-led NGO, to clean up the environment to defend our planet.

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Call to Action

CYCN, a network of young people working to address climate issues, spearheaded this year’s competition, following a successful #YouthLeadSDG13 campaign last year on climate action.

Climate change is a huge threat to these environments - particularly in the Commonwealth where 49 of the 56 member countries have coastlines - making youth action vital to its protection for future generations to come.

Led by the CYCN, Commonwealth youth call for a "powerful wave of change" to ensure current and future generations co-exist in a nurturing relationship with the ocean.

All stakeholders need to protect, restore, conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development by taking actions aligned with the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

CYCN is one of 13 Commonwealth Youth Networks.

Find out more about the Networks, and how to join here.

Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail