World Water Week: Chilean students win 2013 International Stockholm Junior Water Prize

At World Water Week in Stockholm, Naomi Estay and Omayra Toro from Chile received the 2013 Stockholm Junior Water Prize.


Stockholm, Sept. 5, 2013 -- At World Water Week in Stockholm, H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the 2013 Stockholm Junior Water Prize to Naomi Estay and Omayra Toro from Chile at an award ceremony on 9/4 for their work on how living organisms can help clean oil spills in extremely low temperatures.

The Chilean team travelled to Antarctica and managed to identify a whole dozen of bacterial strains with the potential to clean up oil spills, by metabolizing it, in extremely low temperatures.

The international Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition brings together the world's brightest young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment. This year, thousands of participants in countries all over the globe joined national competitions for the chance to represent their nation at the international final held during the World Water Week in Stockholm. Teams from 28 countries competed in the 2013 finals.

Naomi Estay and Omayra Toro with H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden (Photo: Cecilia Östberg, Exray)

"The knowledge developed has potentially widespread application. It shows how we can learn from natural processes to solve modern problems. Rather than utilizing potentially toxic chemicals for remediation, the project identified a natural approach based on locally available biological resources," said the Jury in its citation. "The increasing melting of the polar ice caps and our continued thirst for oil will unfortunately make this kind of clean up strategies even more relevant in the future. The project also made an incredibly inspiring story."

Omayra expounded, "We are so happy and excited. We worked with this project for two years. Antarctica, the white continent, has been a big inspiration to us in our work and now we want to continue our investigation. We also want to spread awareness about the effects of pollution in the world."

A Diploma of Excellence was also awarded to the Yeari Vigder and Noam Arye Nassi from Israel, for a project that proposes an inexpensive and easy way to use remote sensing system for farmers in developing countries. The innovation provides a plug-in and a smartphone application that delivers an immediate field condition feedback that allows for water saving.

"This high flying project makes use of a camera and will help farmers to decide when and where to irrigate. The vision is to mount a tablet or even a smart-phone on a self-made mini-helicopter, thus opening up this irrigation optimization technology for a large group of farmers. This will ultimately lead to more efficient water use in agriculture," said the Jury in its citation.

About the Stockholm Junior Water Prize
The competition is open to young people between 15-20 years of age, who have conducted water-related projects focusing on local, regional, national or global topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. As a result of the competitions, thousands of young people around the world develop personal interests, undertake academic study, and often pursue careers in the water or environmental fields. The winner receives an award of USD 5,000 and a handmade blue crystal sculpture. The Stockholm International Water Institute administers the competition. The official suppliers are Hewlett-Packard, Trosa Tryckeri, People Travel Group, Halebop, and Hertz. H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is the Patron of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Xylem Inc. is the global sponsor of the prize.

About the World Water Week in Stockholm
The World Water Week in Stockholm is the annual meeting place for the planet’s most urgent water-related issues. Organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), it brings together 2,500 experts, practitioners, decision makers and business innovators from around the globe to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to water challenges.

About Stockholm International Water Institute
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a policy institute that generates knowledge and informs decision-making towards water wise policy and sustainable development. SIWI performs research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services.


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