Dutch Ocean Crusader Awarded Top Global Environmental Prize for Inspiration and Action
Boyan Slat Youngest Winner of the United Nation’s Champions of the Earth Award for
Inspiring Efforts to Cleanup the Ocean
Geneva, 17 November 2014 – Boyan Slat, 19, founder of the innovative The Ocean Cleanup
initiative and Eminent Environmental Scientist Sir Robert Watson were announced Tuesday as
winners of the UN’s top environmental accolade, the Champion of the Earth award.
The Inspiration and Action award, which has been won in previous years by Brian McClendon of
Google Earth and Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food, was awarded to Boyan Slat for his
inspirational efforts to mobilize support to rid the ocean of marine litter.
Slat was still in secondary school when he came up with the idea of utilizing the natural ocean
currents and winds to passively concentrate and transport floating plastic along solid floating
barriers towards a central collection platform. According to the Ocean Cleanup’s recently
published feasibility research, they estimate that almost half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
can be removed using this technology in ten years’ time.
It is hoped that The Ocean Cleanup initiative can contribute to ongoing worldwide efforts to
tackle the escalating problem that widespread plastic waste is posing to marine life.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The marine
litter problem is global in scale and intergenerational in impact, exacting tremendous
ecological, economic, and social costs around the world. According to UNEP research
conservative estimates of the overall financial damage of plastics to marine ecosystems now
stand at US$13 billion each year.”
“Boyan Slat is inspiring people, organizations and governments to find solutions to the
escalating threat of plastic debris in our oceans, while also serving as a reminder to us all that
more work needs to be done to improve the capacity of all countries to better manage solid
waste and to make production and consumption patterns far more sustainable so that we
produce less waste, and put less pressure on our increasingly degraded ocean.”
Slat has also been recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide
by Intel EYE50. Slat’s presentation at TEDxDelft 2012 has been viewed by over 1.6 million
people and he has managed to raise over US$2 million through crowdfunding
(with the support of over 38,000 funders from 160 countries) to fund the next phase of
The Ocean Cleanup initiative.
Boyan Slat said, “I’m incredibly excited and honoured to receive this award on behalf of
everyone at The Ocean Cleanup, a team of more than 100 people worldwide. Although we are
still several years away from implementing the technology, I’m truly grateful that our hard work
is already being recognized. We’ll continue to do our utmost to fulfill the expectations, and
initiate the largest ocean cleanup in history.”
For more information on UNEP’s Champions of the Earth visit http://www.unep.org
For Boyan Slat – [email protected]