A project which promotes ocean restoration and protects blue carbon sinks for marine life in Costa Rica has won the prestigious US$100,000 St Andrews Prize for the Environment 2022.
The winning project, Misión Tiburón, is a community-based project that protects and restores blue carbon sinks in the hammerhead shark sanctuary in Costa Rica. The project aims to protect and conserve the ocean and the life it holds through education and scientific research.
Speaking about the Prize, Misión Tiburón Director and marine biologist, lIena Zanella, said: “It is a great honour for me to receive the St Andrews Prize for the Environment on behalf of the organisation and all the people engaged with the project.
“Our project is at a crucial moment, and thanks to the Prize we will be able to scale up the restoration project, ensure the capacity building of vulnerable groups, and engage different generations on climate action and ocean conservation. We will be able to accomplish our vision to save the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, and also support the most vulnerable groups of our society, the ones who are dealing with the impacts of habitat degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change.”
The 2022 Prize winner was announced at the live final event in St Andrews last night (Tuesday 22 November) which took place in-person for the first time since 2019.
The St Andrews Prize is an environmental initiative led by the University of St Andrews that recognises global projects making significant contributions to environmental issues and concerns, with a focus on sustainability, conservation, biodiversity, and community development.
Since its establishment in 1998, the Prize has awarded more than US$2 million in funding to environmental projects around the world, supporting a wide range of initiatives that address diverse topics including sustainable development, food security, recycling, health, renewable energy, and community education. Entries to the Prize have been global, local and/or scalable, outlining how they will socially and economically impact the communities where they are based.
Following hundreds of entries from around the world, the winner of the US$100,000 environmental Prize was selected by a global panel of experts representing conservation, sustainable development, engineering, economics, and the University of St Andrews.
The winner will receive US$100,000 with the runners-up Avani and Health and Harmony each receiving US$25,000.
The Prize has provided crucial support to a diverse range of projects which have reduced human-animal conflict, promoted environmental justice, developed new solutions to reduce and eliminate waste, and championed urban regeneration.
Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chair of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment Trustees, said: “This was another excellent year for the Prize with an incredibly varied range of projects, led by teams who all show great commitment and passion, addressing global social and environmental challenges.
“Our winners, Misión Tiburón, understood the importance of making connections, that you need to make connections between people, science, and policy makers if you want to effect conservation change. Misión Tiburón demonstrate the importance that marine health is planetary health and we as judges were impressed with the projects ability to scale up, replicate, and inspire significant environmental impact.
“We never fail to be uplifted and inspired by the creativity and passion of the changemakers we meet through the St Andrews Prize for the Environment.”
Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, added: “Misión Tiburón is an outstanding winner of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, addressing the very real issues around marine conservation and understanding the vital role our oceans play in tackling the global climate emergency.
“As we have seen at COP27, the global climate emergency is as urgent as ever with loss and damage a key element of this year’s discussions. Our winner, Misión Tiburón, is making a real difference in Costa Rica and further afield and is an exemplar of a project that is scalable.
“Over the last 24 years, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment has supported global projects that seek to mitigate the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been affected the most by climate change.
“The St Andrews Prize provides a platform for projects with innovative approaches to tackling the global climate emergency at a grassroots level. Projects such as Misión Tiburón empower communities and help them to create a more sustainable way of life and serve as an example to others.
“The St Andrews Prize, is a testament to the University’s commitment to tackling the environmental issues that impact us all.”
Interviews with the Prize winners, Misión Tiburón, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, and Dr Hayaatun Sillem are available to download.
Interviews are also available via YouTube.
Pictured (left to right) are Andrés Lopéz Garro, Misión Tiburón co-founder; lIena Zanella, Misión Tiburón Director; Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews; and Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chair of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment Trustees.
The University of St Andrews
The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first and oldest university. It stands for research and teaching of the highest quality, and the pursuit of knowledge for the common good. The University aims to be a beacon for diversity, social inclusion, and social responsibility.
About the St Andrews Prize for the Environment
From 2020 the University has had an unprecedented opportunity to look afresh at the Prize and seek a consortium of new partners to work with in the years ahead. This commitment from the University’s supporters will support the next phase of the Prize’s story, providing vital funding for pioneering projects, extending their impact to a wider audience, and leading to long-term change.
The University is grateful to everyone who is supporting the 2022 St Andrews Prize for the Environment.
To find out details about previous prize winners and finalists, including project locations, visit the St Andrews Prize for the Environment website.
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.