Environmental Olympics kick off in Turkey

by Graeme Lamb. Published Wed 27 May 2009 12:32
Istanbul is hosting the 17th International Environment Project Olympiad

Young people between the ages of 13 and 19 from over 40 countries are gathering in Turkey this week for the 17th International Environment Project Olympiad.

These Environmental Olympics have been running in Istanbul since 1993, as a response to the United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which recognised the importance of youth and of international cooperation. They aim to inspire, encourage and recognise eco-innovation in the next generation.

The event is held annually to tie in with World Environment Week, and is run jointly by Fatih College and the Turkish Ministries of Education and of the Environment. From the first event in 1993, which students from eight countries attended, it has grown to include representatives of more than 40 nationalities, all striving towards the invention and creation of eco-friendly products and methods.

Entries must be officially sponsored by recognised bodies in their own country, and there is a limit on how many projects can be submitted, as well as how many students may take part in the competition.

This year’s projects include an initiative from Vietnam to produce soy yoghurt, and an exercise machine that utilises the energy generated by its use to produce hydrogen. The latter’s two German inventors, Andre Heinrichs and Florian Trost, demonstrated their creation at the opening ceremony.

In all, there are 80 unique and inventive ideas on display.

Students from Ukraine have discovered in an unusual approach to the issue of water and plant growth that water taken from coral areas has a beneficial effect on the growth and size of plants, including kidney beans and seed corn. Host Turkey has also contributed some ideas, including a project to produce recyclable plastic from conquer starch.

Burkina Faso’s entry is one that could have significant impact in its own country, as it looks at using the seeds of a local plant, Moringa Oleifera, to purify water. Those involved claim an impressive 99 percent success rate in clearing water of bacteria and micro-organisms.

Among last year’s winners were a project from South Korea that turned industrial milk waste into an environmentally friendly fertilizer, a form of wave-generated electricity from Azerbaijan, and, from the Philippines, a method of extracting bioethanol from pineapple peelings.

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