Fijian wins regional Commonwealth Youth Award for recycling efforts

Patricia Scotland and Prince Edward at the Commonwealth Youth Awards. Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

Fiji’s Raeed Roshan Ali has been awarded the regional prize at the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work in London overnight for his work on recycling efforts.

He was amongst the young people recognised at a ceremony honouring people for their “incredible commitment” to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

Ali is a fervent climate advocate and social entrepreneur who has “emerged as a beacon of hope” in the fight against plastic pollution. His brainchild, Precious Plastic Fiji, stands as the nation’s first-ever youth-led plastic recycling hub. Through innovative machinery, this initiative transforms discarded ocean plastic into upcycled retail products, significantly curbing the environmental impact of plastic waste. Under Raeed’s leadership, Precious Plastic Fiji has  retrieved over 30,000 kilogrammes of plastic waste from coastal regions and diverted more than 10,000 kilogrammes from landfills. In recognition of his dedication, Raeed was honoured as the 2022 One Young World Leading Pacific Scholar and is distinguished as one of the youngest speakers to grace the TEDx stage.

Another regional finalist, Vanuatu’s Robea Daniel, was the runner-up in the regional division. Described as a dynamic force, Daniel chose to address the pressing concern  of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). As the team leader of Project Wake Up, an innovative youth programme backed by the Pacific Community, Robea employs art as an effective educational tool. Project Wake Up empowers local youth to engage their communities with vital health promotion and prevention messages. By intertwining art and health literacy, Robea’s initiative facilitates vital discussions surrounding NCD prevention in the Pacific. Through this intersection of creativity and healthcare, Robea contributes to achieving SDG 3, “Good Health and Wellbeing”.

The other regional finalists wetre Australia’s Nathaniel Diong, the visionary CEO entrepreneur of Future Minds Network, and Desmond Goru from Papua New Guinea, who is the founder and Chief Director of Political Science of Papua New Guinea-Consultancy Agency Inc. (PSSPNG-CAI).

The overall winner was Maya Kirti Nanan, Founder of the Autism Siblings and Friends Network (ASFN) in Trinidad. She received the award from His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, at an event held on at St James’s Palace in London.