Young environmental prize winner for Africa is saving the world’s last wild hotspots

Twenty-nine-year-old Angolan Adjany Costa wins the prestigious Young Champions of the Earth Prize for Africa for her efforts in conserving the world’s last wild places.

Seven young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with big ideas for environmental change have been recognized from across the globe.

Young Champions from every region receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts. 

UN Environment

Twenty-nine-year-old wildlife ethno-conservationist Adjany Costa from Angola has won the Young Champions of the Earth Prize for her efforts to conserve precious water and biodiversity hotspots in Angola.

As world leaders gather at the UN Headquarters in New York for the Climate Action Summit and General Assembly in the coming days, climate and the environment will be at the forefront of discussions. Youth around the world are already taking action, because there is no time to lose.

Costa’s solution is to work with the Luchaze community in the Eastern Angolan highlands, threatened by unsustainable livelihood practices following the country’s three-decade-long civil war which ended in 2002, as well as clearing of Miombo woodland once landmines are removed. 

As communities return to the land, protecting the Miombo woodland which traps water and nurtures rich biodiversity is critical to protect environmental degradation.

The Okavango River Basin is a vital ecosystem and part of the largest freshwater wetland in Southern Africa. Over a million people depend on the basin, shared by Angola, Namibia and Botswana.

Its delta, in Botswana, is home to an abundance of iconic wildlife including one of the world’s largest elephant populations. The Cuito River is a tributary to the Okavango Delta, maintaining its water levels and fundamental to the upkeep of the whole ecosystem.

“We depend on ecosystems for survival, and more so do poor rural communities. We must be mindful about how our way of living impacts our environment and work with indigenous communities that depend on them to improve their livelihoods through conservation.”


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.