Young Man Wins United Nations 'Champion Of The Earth' Prize For His Work Protecting The Mediterranean

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Young Man Wins United Nations 'Champion Of The Earth' Prize For His Work Protecting The Mediterranean

A young Greek man has been named by the United Nations as one of their "Young Champions of the Earth" 2020 for his work helping to preserve fish-stocks and remove plastic from the sea. Lefteris Arapakis is the only European of the 7 to receive the prize.

Arapakis, 26, who is the son of a fisherman, and comes from a long-line of fishermen and family involved in the fishing trade, realised as time went by how the numbers of fish in the seas surrounding his hometown were diminishing. He also bore witness to the vast amount of plastic that was being found in the sea, causing harm to wildlife and the wider local environment. Knowing that a solution had to be found, he established a non-profit group, 'Enaleia'.

Enaleia, trains local fishermen, and those working in the fishing industry, how to make their actions less harmful to marine wildlife and provides incentives for them to conduct their work in a more eco-friendly manner. This includes giving monetary incentives to ships who obtain marine plastic and return it safely to land, Enaleia then works to recycle this plastic into new products.

The organisation works on the principle that helping the seas bloom and recover is not only good for the environment itself but also good for fishermen in the long-run, because without healthy seas and sufficient fish-stocks, their businesses will most likely collapse.

Arapakis told reporters:

"I got more and more worried about the scarcity of fish and the increase of plastic. I was deeply concerned that my father, and now my brothers, could not make a living out of this job, which is what they learned to do and what they love to do."

Gaetano Leone, an expert in plastic pollution with the UNEP, had nothing but praise for Arapakis and the work of his organisation, saying:

"Discarded single-use plastics are notoriously ubiquitous and have adverse and far-reaching environmental and socio-economic impacts, including on human health. The inspiring work that Lefteris Arapakis is doing with Enaleia demonstrates that individual and local initiatives driven by passion and shared priorities are crucial in complementing action taken at the regional level."

The other six winners of the UN prize were, Niria Alicia Garcia, USA, Xiaoyuan Ren, China, Vidyut Mohan, India, Nzambi Matee, Kenya, Max Hidalgo Quinto, Peru, and Fatemah Alzelzela from Kuwait.

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Thinking Humanity: Young Man Wins United Nations 'Champion Of The Earth' Prize For His Work Protecting The Mediterranean
Young Man Wins United Nations 'Champion Of The Earth' Prize For His Work Protecting The Mediterranean
A young Greek man has been named by the United Nations as one of their "Young Champions of the Earth" 2020 for his work helping to preserve fish-stock
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