Since she won the 2019 Young Champion of the Earth prize for Latin America and the Caribbean, Aqualuz Founder Anna Luisa Beserra has been working hard on saving lives.
Her creativity continues to help rural communities in Brazil to have access to safe drinking water. Her life has changed incredibly since winning the prize in September.
“Ever since I was awarded the prize, Aqualuz’s visibility has tremendously increased,” she explains.
“Before the award, it was hard to convince people that Aqualuz really worked and that it would be a useful technology for this region. After the award, we became renowned not only in Brazil but also in Japan, India and Korea as more people were asking us about the technology and wanted to buy it.
“It has been fantastic, not only for the project but also for the whole start-up and the team. I have enjoyed motivating them to work and to follow our purpose to make water available for everyone,” said Anna.
Beserra believes people are becoming more cognizant of Brazil’s environmental challenges, including deforestation in the Amazon and oil spills in the seas. She has received many questions regarding Brazil’s fight with these issues.
“I have received numerous invitations to speak at various events in Brazil. As a scientist and social entrepreneur, I have received a higher recognition in the field of social innovation. It makes me happy to see that the fruits of my hard work are finally being recognized and are creating positive impact.
“Come next year, we already have a full schedule for scaling up our technology. We are planning to go to Africa next year, as a result of the contacts we have attracted from the visibility we have received.”
Beserra, who is a bio-technologist by profession, says that young people have been inspired by her success as a young champion, to the extent that some high school graduates have told her they now want to pursue biotechnology.
Additionally, more institutions want to partner with her to improve and implement Aqualuz’s technology. She considers this as a major milestone for her project.
“We had a contact with a company which was in an early negotiation, but after the prize and after we won all this visibility, they were quicker to progress the project with us. With this company, we are now implementing 200 units of Aqualuz in a rural community in North West Brazil. Other companies want to do the same. They are contacting me to help in corporate social responsibility projects with Aqualuz.”
From gaining visibility, credibility and funds for social projects, Beserra would encourage other young people to apply for the Young Champions of the Earth prize.
“The prize combines unique experiences with recognition, funds and mentorship. I do not know anything that I could say to make Young Champions of the Earth better. It was better than I expected,” she said.
As a Young Champion of the Earth, Beserra’s most memorable experience has been implementing Aqualuz all over her country. “I am most passionate about seeing families receive Aqualuz and telling me that they saw me on television and they never thought that the technology would be in their houses,” she says.
In future, her vision is that all countries and continents will be able to receive Aqualuz’s technology. She will continue to develop the technology so that she can make it more affordable and more useful.
“I see safe drinking water as a critical way to change lives, not only through access to clean water but also through better sanitation. With different technologies like these, we can reach more people and create impact for healthier lives and environments,” she said.
Through this entire process, Beserra has been inspired that young leaders can participate more in environmental decision-making.
“With this visibility, youth can create a higher impact and more people will be aware and conscious about what they need to do to help tackle climate change, for example. Sustainable Development Goals should also be incorporated into school curricula thus increasing the visibility of these goals,” she said.
United Nations Environment Programme Freshwater expert, Lis Mullin Bernhardt, said: “We’re very happy to hear about the increased attention this prize has brought Anna Luisa Beserra.
“This helps to raise awareness about the access to clean water and sanitation in rural parts of her native Brazil, and other regions of the world. Her work also highlights the global demand for innovative, nature-based solutions like hers.”
Do you have what it takes to be a Young Champion of the Earth? Applications open in early 2020. Pressing submit makes you part of our changemaker community – get involved and be part of the conversation on environmental change.
The Young Champions of the Earth Prize, powered by Covestro, is UN Environment Programme’s leading initiative to engage youth in tackling the world's most pressing environmental challenges.