RELX Environmental Challenge 2023: five shortlisted projects to bring safe water and sanitation to communities around the world
The RELX Environmental Challenge 2023 shortlist features five innovative projects that provide sustainable access to safe water and improved sanitation. In this, the thirteenth year of the RELX Environmental Challenge, there were more than 100 applications from 35 countries. The RELX Environmental Challenge prioritises replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative solutions. They must also have practical applicability and involve local communities and other key stakeholders.
The first prize winner will receive $50,000 with $25,000 for second place. To help them advance their work, all shortlisted candidates will receive one year’s access to RELX environmental content, including the premier sector journal, Water Research, through Science Direct, the world's leading source for scientific, technical, and medical research.
The 2023 RELX Environmental Challenge shortlisted projects are:
An innovative approach to water treatment that uses electrocoagulation in a decentralized, local system that is entirely off grid, using solar panels to supply energy for the pumps and electrochemical process and removing the need for costly chemicals.
The MonoFluor, a prototype fluorescence-based water quality analyser, developed at the University of Liverpool, to provide near-instantaneous indications of whether water is unsafe to drink, using only a small sample and without the need for expensive reagents.
CPlantae, a Mexican social enterprise that aims to provide sustainable wastewater treatment solutions through its Lombrifiltro technology. The Lombrifiltro uses earthworms to treat domestic wastewater, resulting in high-quality effluent suitable for reuse in agricultural irrigation and other non-potable water applications.
A forest restoration project in coastal Kenya that works with local communities and Traditional Herbal Practitioners to restore and sustainably manage the Taita Hills Water Towers. These indigenous forest fragments act as "water towers" by retaining cloud water and providing an essential source of freshwater to surrounding lowland areas.
Scaling the deployment of Waterscope, a portable, user-friendly device that tests water for bacterial contamination. The system combines traditional microbiology methods, cutting edge microscopy and machine learning technologies to provide a fast, accurate, and cost-effective solution to water testing. The data collected from each system is digitally integrated into an online dashboard, ensuring real-time and accessible results for stakeholders.
Winners of this year’s Challenge will be announced following the final stage of judging by an expert panel that includes Dr Mark van Loosdrecht, Editor-In-Chief of Elsevier’s journal Water Research and recipient of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize and Dr Lewis Collins, Editor-in-Chief of One Earth, a Cell Press journal publishing research in environmental change and sustainability science. Joining the judging panel in 2023 is Virginia Gardiner, a sanitation expert and inventor of the Loowatt toilet system. LooWatt, the first prize winner of the 2016 RELX Environmental Challenge, is a proprietary waterless and energy-generating toilet system that is clean and odourless, creating social and environmental benefits that include water savings, carbon emissions reduction, improved human health and job creation.
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