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
Mwaura (Waste Picker)

Evans Maina Ngure (Kenya)

'Mwaura' is the name of a waste picker in Githurai 45 town, Nairobi, Kenya. He sells his waste to a scrap metal dealer, who in turn sells me items that I use to create my sculptures. In this sculpture I depict one of his favourite tools which is a magnetic metal collector. Mwaura as thousands of waste pickers in my country plays a major role in waste management. While making a living for themselves, they also ensure the waste they collect is adequately recycled, repurposed or reused. Waste pickers are undervalued players in our environment.

2. Acknowledged
The Vanishing Reef

Jaxton Su (Singapore)

Made from artfully-sculpted upcycled plastics, the sculpture highlights the pressing issue of coral bleaching and degradation, a consequence of human-accelerated climate change.

Turning Plastic Waste into Beautiful Plastic Basket

Alisha Maharjan (Nepal)

In developing countries like Nepal, plastic waste has been a very common and serious issue in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. I have made a beautiful plastic basket which is in my hand and another one below is a plastic mat made out of plastic waste. These are made out of my household plastic waste like noodles wrappers and biscuit wrappers. As we all know, plastic is non-biodegradable material and making upcycling products out of it means giving second life to these plastics, and at the same time protecting the environment.

3. Honourable Mention
'Waste' Flowers

Anh Cong Le (Vietnam)

As a corporate social responsibility leader in a textile company, I find that there are many kinds of waste originated from production. I, along with some workers, have upcycled some kinds of waste into new marketable products. The flowers are made of our defective socks. I would like to sell this kind of upcycled product during the holidays to raise funds for some social activities. We can even provide materials and teach underprivileged people how to make this kind of product to generate an income.

Longnose Plasticfly Fish

Yona Mudibo (Kenya)

The artwork is a sculpture based off of the Longnose Butterfly fish I saw during a snorkeling trip we took with some friends at Vipingo Beach in Kilifi, Kenya. The beauty of the coral reef was a beauty to behold, and seeing its vibrance felt like an honour. However, this and more species of reef fish are under threat with the prevalent plastic pollution and coral reef erosion on the coastline. This artwork was made to celebrate the beauty of the ocean, and remind people of the need to reduce plastic pollution and coral reef erosion in the ocean to preserve its beauty.

The Beauty of Chaos

Uyeh Member (Nigeria)

My submission is an upcycled necklace, earring, and hand bangle made from seven plastic bottles and some Ankara scraps. This jewelry should be kept in a cool and dry place. We can empower youth with these recycling skills. It will enable them to make money while caring for the environment.