2023 RCE Youth Art Challenge Awardees

In 2023, the Global RCE Service Centre at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), in partnership with UNESCO, held the RCE Youth Art Challenge: From Waste to Art.

The Challenge asked participants to create artwork to inspire others around the world to use resources more efficiently, reduce waste, and ultimately shift to sustainable consumption and production. Artworks demonstrated the actions that participants and their local community have been taking, with a focus on SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

Submissions were received across three categories (15 years and under, 16-25 years, and 26-35 years), with 212 entries coming from 34 countries. Artworks were expressed through a range of mediums, including craft work, paintings, sculptures, and digital art.

Below are the awardees - congratulations to all!

Click on the '15 years and under', '16-25 years' and '26-35 years' buttons below to see the winners within each category.


Click on each artwork below to see it displayed in full.

1. Outstanding
Shadow of a Torn World

Yuvika Agarwal (India)

The sun casts a bright hue on Earth every morning, only to reveal the insensitivity, selfishness and destructive practices of humankind. I’ve used this light to highlight the actions of humankind, who through their irresponsible consumption and production have shred every leaf and ounce of nature to pieces. This fallen leaf from my backyard stands for nature whose very existence has been riddled with holes and painful scars. It's time we adopt a responsible lifestyle. We must undo the damage, restore the leaf to its green glory and let the new shadow define our unity rather than our mistakes.

2. Acknowledged
Ecological Bag Made from Plantain Trunk

Prudence Heda Masseng (Cameroon)

The use of plastic has dominated the African continent for years now but due to the huge role it plays to fuel climate change, people are gradually drifting to other eco-friendly alternatives such as wood paper bags and fabric bags. I am specializing in the transformation and valorization of agricultural waste in order to create pertinent solutions to global problems such as deforestation and plastic waste pollution. This artwork shows an example of using agricultural waste, such as plantain stems to produce gift bags or package bags which will be better alternatives for plastic bags.

Trash to Treasures: A Filipiniana Trash Gown Ode to SDG 12

Frederick Balmores Galande (Philippines)

This Filipiniana trash gown, created from wasted plastic and garbage bags, inspires us to make environmentally mindful decisions, even in the fashion industry. Its poignant message serves as a powerful reminder that beauty may come from ethical acts like recycling and reusing materials to produce a magnificent work of art. We can begin protecting and restoring our natural systems in our communities right now. Proactive solutions include raising awareness through education programs and seminars, advocating for sustainable laws, and coordinating local clean-up activities.

3. Honourable Mention
Harmony in Diversity

Mohamad Aish Akmal (Malaysia)

My sculpture captures the essence of Sarawak's cultural mosaic with intricate designs representing various ethnicities united to celebrate Hari Gawai; crafted using recycled materials such as paper bags, draft papers, skewers, sprigs, twigs and dried plants, recycled box, and excess cloth. It embodies responsible consumption and production in the realm of art due to the rising cost of art supplies. By choosing recycled materials, I aim to show others that artists can save costs, reduce waste, and create a more sustainable artistic future through eco-conscious creativity.

Time to Change

Ayazhan Yessenkul (Kazakhstan)

I wanted to show how the problem of overconsumption is viewed in my country. I included the figures that show how we solve this problem, like choosing slow fashion by buying clothes second-hand and repairing old clothes. As an alternative to plastic bags, many people are using eco-bags. Knowledge brings awareness through books, so I tried to make handcraft as a 3D book.

Waste Art

Henry Baligwa (Uganda)

Surprisingly my artwork you are observing right now is a manifestation of waste reuse and it is going to sensitize generations and generations of humans to come. Is it not that interesting how my waste is giving a hand in saving the world other than destroying it. Let us preserve what we found and save future generations. The artwork portrays an abstract manifestation of environmental protection and conservation through sensitization of current and future generations as well as the need to love and care for biodiversity, ecosystems, and the planet.