2021 RE-NEW Our WORLD Student Water Innovation Challenge

First Edition Highlights

Re-New Our World aims to enable youth to think positively and creatively about the future of water. The inaugural challenge launched in February 2021 to mark UAE’s National Environment Day. The competition was open to anyone living in the UAE within the ages of 8 – 18.  Water Alliance received entries from students at 18 different schools across 3 Emirates (Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) in this inaugural year.  There were over 600 enrollments in sixteen curated workshops on the topics of water scarcity, water access & treatment, innovation and public speaking to inspire the students to dream up their own unique solutions to any of today’s water challenges. In the first selection round, 16 finalists were identified and mentored by professionals to enhance their ideas.

Water Alliance asked these young, inquisitive minds to rise to the task of solving local or global water issues. This is no small feat but over 130 students stepped up and took on the mission of finding innovative solutions to improve the way we access, treat or distribute water. Some students addressed water scarcity with novel ideas to locate or collect water while others focused on reducing wastage at home, in school or in agriculture. Still others tackled the water pollution conundrum with creative ways to clean the ocean, repurpose litter or to eliminate the root cause of plastic bottle pollution altogether.

An eminent jury of seasoned executives from our partner companies were called upon to review the final video pitches and select the top two winners from the three age categories (8 to 10 years, 11 to 13 years, and 14 to 17 years). While students in the older category came up with the most innovative and holistic solutions, the youngest students were passionate participants with the highest number of entries.

Xylem’s Pietro Moro, Sales & Marketing Director for Middle East and Turkey (Challenge Judge) and Carlotta Rosa from Xylem with First Place Winner Sashini Manikandan (category: 11-14 years) from Delhi Private School Sharjah and Linda Merieau, Water Alliance, Executive Director

As Edurne Gil, Program Director, Water Alliance, explains, “We believe that young inquisitive minds can unlock innovative ideas to address today’s water challenges and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”  The mentors were highly impressed by the quality of submissions. Hala Mesmar, Sales Engineer, Xylem said, “It has been a pleasure to see young minds coming together to solve the challenging issue of water scarcity, and the many issues that dove-tail from it. The unique solutions designed by each student have been a refreshing reminder that such an abundance of knowledge lies within our youth, and we are excited to see these ideas developed to their full potential.”

The finalists all presented worthy ideas and demonstrated their clear understanding of global challenges like water security. Designating the first-place winners from a pool of such talented, visionary and passionate youngsters was a challenge in itself. Vitor Maia, General Manager MENCA, Electrolux noted that “it’s been a very big responsibility to judge the entries knowing how much time and effort the kids have put on it. We believe that they are all winners, as will be our planet when such imaginative and caring stewards take over the reins.”  

Winner in age category 8 -10 years, Isha R Nair, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba school, with her mentor Liz Chan-a-Sue. Also pictured: Edurne Gil, Program Director and Linda Merieau, Executive Director, Water Alliance

Taking first place among the students aged 8 – 10 years old is Isha R Nair from Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba with her nature-inspired project about domestic waste water recycling. The winning submission in the 11 – 13 year old category goes to Sashini Manikandan from Delhi Private School Sharjah for an entry tackling the root cause of plastic pollution with the QR Code enabled Water Kiosk solution. The 14-18 year old category was taken by Aliyah Fazal from American Community School of Abu Dhabi who designed the water saving, universal fit Eco Tap that also repurposes plastic waste as her winning submission. Congratulations to all the finalists for their monumental effort to contribute innovative ideas to solving global and local water challenges that can restore our Earth.

All finalists in age category 14 – 18 years old pictured with Linda Merieau, Executive Director Water Alliance and Alyza Beg, Group Head Corporate Affairs, Al Gurg Group

The Challenge was supported by our Gold Champions: Electrolux, Mas Paints, Xylem; Silver Champions: Droople, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group; Bronze Champions: Farnek Services, Media One Hotel and No More Bottles; and our Knowledge Partners: Manipal University Dubai, Murdoch University Dubai, Project Maji, and The Bedrock Program.

Through this annual challenge, Water Alliance seeks to support young students with knowledge and tools that can empower them to positively influence others and bring about a sea-change in the way we all value water.

First Place Winners:

The first place winners received a check of 3,000 dirhams to be used for a water efficiency project at their school.

First Place Winner – Age Category: 8 – 10 Years Old | Isha R Nair from Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba

First Place Winner – Age Category: 11 – 13 Years Old | Sashini Manikandan from Delhi Private School Sharjah

1st Place Winner – Age Category: 14 – 18 Years Old | Aliyah Fazal from The American Community School of Abu Dhabi

Second Place Winners

The second place winners received a contactless water filtration unit from No More Bottles.

Second Place Winner – Age Category: 8 – 10 Years Old | Zain Awad from Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba

Second Place Winner – Age Category: 11 – 13 Years Old | Ananya Manikandan from Delhi Private School Sharjah

Ananya realized that her family was wasting a lot of precious water from two sources: their reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system and the central air conditioning units. She couldn’t believe it when she realized that 3 times more water is wasted than the amount filtered by the RO system. She also realized that an average of around 20-80 lit per day (depending on the daily usage) was going down the drains from the condensation water in the AC units. So she developed a plumbing device to capture all this water using gravity (to avoid electricity needs) and smartly delivering it around the house for other uses like the dishwashing, washing machine and toilets. The below visuals show how it works and some of the innovative uses for this ‘grey’ water.

Second Place Winner – Age Category: 14 – 18 Years Old | Anyka Chakravarty from GEMS Wellington International Dubai

The AQUAE mobile app solution was conceived by Anyka and her friend Rithika Abraham. The idea is to expand the use of mobile kiosks to make re-filling your reusable water bottles convenient, safe and effortless. Their idea tackles the problem of plastic pollution in our world’s waters and incentivizes individuals for carrying their own reusable bottle. Great thinking!