YRE 2023 Litter Less Competition winners announced

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) national Litter Less Competition.

The annual competition gives young people aged 11-25 years a platform to research environmental issues and promote solutions through investigative reporting, photography and video journalism. Now in its 29th year, the programme is run in 43 countries with more than 495,000 young reporters internationally taking part, helping to raise awareness on the issues of litter, waste and pollution to affect long-term behaviour change amongst young people.

This year, 168 entries were submitted from students throughout Aotearoa, each of which involved researching, chronicling, and reporting on an environmental issue close to the students’ heart. The winning entries covered a diverse range of topics, including e-waste, food waste, micro plastics in the ocean, composting and litter clean ups.
See the full list of YRE 2023 competition winners here.

In New Zealand, YRE is facilitated by Keep New Zealand Beautiful on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and the YRE Litter Less Programme – of which the competition is a component – is sponsored internationally by the Mars Wrigley Foundation.

The New Zealand YRE jury comprised of experts in the fields of journalism, photography and environmental sustainable development. The panel, which convened in late August to decide the winners, consisted of environmental photographer Jacki Key, journalist Adrian Hatwell, Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson and Mars New Zealand representatives, Deigna Khama and Kristin Paddy.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says “YRE offers a great opportunity for students throughout New Zealand to take a stand on environmental issues they feel passionate about and provides them with a platform to advocate for these issues through writing, photography and video. Research shows us that today’s youth are suffering from the onset of climate anxiety. We’re proud to offer this internationally recognised programme to schools in Aotearoa, giving students a voice and empowering the next generation of climate conscious Kiwis.”

Collectively the jury were impressed with the quality of entries received and excited to share the placings with the winning students.

“It was a great experience to be involved with this competition, and a privilege to see firsthand the calibre of talent in our next generation. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the YRE team and seeing the programme in action. The level of effort, research and passion was evident, so overall this opportunity was wonderful,” says Mars New Zealand Senior Brand Manager Kristin Paddy.

“It was truly inspiring to witness the enthusiasm that our future generation exhibits towards addressing crucial sustainability challenges. The quality of the submissions was remarkably high, which presented a tough task for us as judges. All in all, participating in this year’s YRE competition as a judge was a rewarding experience,” said Deigna Khamal, Omnichannel and eCommerce Specialist at Mars New Zealand.

Renowned photographer Jacki Key said being a YRE judge is inspirational, “I always enjoy the student’s work and being involved in YRE.”

The first place winners of the national competition will be put forward for the 2024 YRE International Competition. Earlier this year Sophie Ineson of Southland Girls’ High School was awarded first place in the 2023 International YRE Litter Less Programme (Video Reportage 11-14 years category) with her video entitled ‘Food Waste Café’. In the video, she discussed food waste at local, national and global levels, linking it to food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss, and spent time with Kiwi Harvest to find out what can be done.

Previous YRE competition winners have also gone on to win fully funded scholarships from FEE to attend international conferences and symposiums.

The full list of YRE 2023 national competition winners can be viewed here.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is now taking expressions of interest for the 2024 Young Reporters for the Environment Litter Less Programme. To register, please contact education@knzb.org.nz

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