National winners announced for the Young Reporters for the Environment Litter Less Competition 2021

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is proud to announce the winners of the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) – Litter Less national 2021 competition.

YRE is facilitated in New Zealand by Keep New Zealand Beautiful on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and empowers young people to take an educated stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about, giving them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video. In its 27th year, the programme is run in 44 countries, with more than 450,000 young reporters taking part.

The YRE Litter Less Programme, of which the competition is a component of, is sponsored internationally by the Mars Wrigley Foundation. The goal of the programme is to raise awareness on the issues of litter and waste, and affect long-term behaviour change among young people aged 11-25 years. YRE helps participants to develop skills and acquire knowledge which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives: communication skills, individual initiative, teamwork, critical analysis, social responsibility and leadership skills are all honed through involvement in the programme.

This year over 200 students from around New Zealand entered the competition. Students were asked to investigate an issue relating to reducing plastic waste, research a solution and then report on it using film, photography or writing. They were then required to disseminate their piece via available channels such as social media, their school newsletter, or by contacting local media.

The New Zealand YRE Jury, which comprises of experts in the fields of journalism, photography and environmental sustainable development, held an online panel in the first week of September to review the submissions and determine the winners. Members of the jury include TV journalist and Keep New Zealand Beautiful Ambassador Melissa Chan-Green, environmental photographer Jacki Key, Creative Director of Media Studies at the University of Auckland Folko Boermans, freelance journalist Adrian Hatwell, and Corporate Affairs Manager at Mars New Zealand Bridget Beaurepaire.

Melissa Chan-Green said “There were some great story angles and ideas explored through the YRE competition this year and it’s encouraging to see so many budding young journalists!”

Previous YRE competition winners have gone on to win fully funded scholarships from FEE to attend international conferences and symposiums, such as Joanna Tao who received a scholarship to the UN’s 9th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand in 2018, and Joshua Richardson who was selected to represent New Zealand at a UNESCO forum in 2018.

Corporate Affairs Manager for Mars New Zealand Bridget Beaurepaire says: “At Mars we are continuing to work towards our goal of using 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025. This includes reducing packaging we don’t need, and redesigning packaging we do need.  It is encouraging to see the passion, commitment and creativity of young New Zealanders who are raising awareness of a range of environmental challenges from packaging to waste management, recycling and litter.”

The full list of YRE 2021 competition winners can be viewed here.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is now taking expressions of interest for the 2022 YRE Programme. To register, please contact education@knzb.org.nz

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