BEIJING – Three Chinese youth were recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for their innovative ideas in an environmental protection project contest.

The contest, Chinese Young Champion of the Earth, was jointly launched by Chinese social media giant Sina Weibo and the UNEP in April, with an aim to encourage and support young Chinese environmentalists, aged 18 to 30, to implement their innovative green ideas.

Wang Miao, Luo Yi, and Zhu Chuanhui stood out as winners from hundreds of candidates after an online poll and expert panel review for their efforts in preserving oceans, facilitating sustainable development in rural areas and raising environmental protection awareness among children through comic books.

For example, scuba and free-diving diver Wang Miao launched Better Blue, a global network constructed mainly by diving centers or divers, to build an eco-evaluation system that would redefine the diving industry and empower members to become advocates and practitioners in marine conservation.

The UNEP also announced that Sina Weibo had become its exclusive strategic cooperation partner for its landmark project Champion of the Earth.

Launched in 2005, the project aims to honor and encourage global efforts in environmental protection. China’s Saihanba afforestation community took home the award in 2017 for the restoration of degraded landscapes.

Sina Weibo will continue to leverage its influence to promote more public participation in environmental protection and do their part in preserving the earth, said Dong Wenjun, a social responsibility director at Sina Weibo, which now has over 400 million monthly active users.

The UNEP introduced the Young Champion of the Earth in 2017 as an annual awards program to recognize and support young environmentalists worldwide. The Chinese Young Champion of the Earth is the UNEP’s first national-level program.