The Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) is considered the world’s most prestigious award offered for a research project on water. It is declared every year since 1997 as a part of World Water Week. High school students, aged 15-20 years, who have developed projects solving some of the world’s most pertinent water challenges are eligible to participate in it. Each year, thousands compete in the national competitions held in almost 40 countries across the globe, and hope to represent their countries in World Water Week. These national contests are run by Stockholm International Water Institute, whose jury nominates the national-level winners to the international finale.
This year, the World Water Week was held online from August 23-27, 2021 and focused on water-related projects of proven importance. On total, 32 countries participated with over 44 finalists. HRH crown princess Victoria announced Eshani Jha, a young Indian-American from California, as the winner. Eshani’s research was on the removal of water contaminants. ‘The process involves replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and cheap water filters,’ she explained.
Thanawit Namjaidee and Future Kongchu from Thailand were awarded a Diploma of Excellence, which is offered to a particularly worthy project. They developed a way for accelerating plant growth by retaining moisture using organic waste materials.
A People’s Choice Award was also announced where people vote for their favourite water project. This year, the highest votes were received by Gabriel Fernandes Mello Ferreira from Brazil, who developed a microplastic retention mechanism for water treatment.
An SJWP winner is awarded with US $15,000 and an international crystal trophy. The innovative water solutions of the participants are displayed on their community web pages. Furthermore, the alumni network of SJWP called ‘Water Tank’ invites the finalists for connecting and collaborating with water experts from some of the world’s leading organisations. Hence, this competition plays a very exciting role in bringing like-minded people together and discussing critical water challenges on an international level.