Two young scientists are awarded for environmental innovations in Angola and Brazil

With environmental projects that present innovations in their respective countries, Brazilian Anna Luísa Beserra (21) and Angolan Adjany Costa (29) received a UN award for young scientists. With their projects, both contribute to environmental preservation and access to water. And with the incentive, they intend to expand these technologies to other regions.

Africa’s winner is Angolan Adjany Costa, who stood out for her efforts to conserve water and biodiversity in the country. And in the category “Latin America and the Caribbean” Brazilian Anna Luísa Beserra, the first one in Brazil to receive the award, has the project “Aqualuz”, which purifies water through ultraviolet radiation and was inspired by the semiarid of the country. She believes the award is the kickoff to expand her project to other regions of the world.

This award provides a great opportunity for us to make connections with people in Africa and even Asia to try to expand this technology. I already told the team that we will take a unit in the suitcase to be able to deliver to someone who can take and deploy in some country of the African continent, ”jokes the Brazilian Anna Luisa.

“The importance of receiving this distinction goes beyond my work. It is a way of showing that there is a conservation world in Angola beyond what is said, beyond what is institutional. There are people who are motivated to work in different areas and components of conservation. It’s also a way of showing that even in remote areas we have had some attention, ”celebrates Adjany Costa.

The young Angolan also highlights the importance of the award as an incentive to continue her work. “It’s always (important to have) support because this is not an easy job. It’s a job that requires motivation, that requires some visibility in order to continue.

Angola and Preservation

In Angola, Adjany Costa works with the Luchaze community in the eastern highlands of Angola. These communities are threatened by unsustainable practices that threaten their livelihoods after nearly three decades of civil war.

The Okavango delta is shared by Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Photo: Freek Van Ootegem/UN Environment Programme

Our project involves a series of empowerment activities that allow them to have a voice, a voice that they feel they lost during 27 years of civil war,” explains the scientist. “The project basically consists of introducing workshops and talks to enable conservation to improve their own lives and have an economic incentive for themselves to conserve their own land.”

Adjany Costa Photo: UN Environment Programme

She first met the Luchaze when she participated in a scientific expedition along the Okavango River basin. For four months, Adjany traveled about 2,500 kilometers through Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. According to the UN Environment, the Botswana River Delta is home to abundant wildlife, including one of the largest elephant populations in the world.

Brazil and the Water

According to the UNEP Environment Program (UNEP), Aqualuz is a low-cost, easy-to-maintain invention that can last up to 20 years. The initiative has already distributed drinking water to 265 people and will reach 700 more this year. Although only tested in Brazil, the device has the potential to be applied in other countries.

Anna Luísa Beserra Photo: UN Environment Programme

“Aqualuz came about when I was 15 and in high school. And as I always wanted to be a scientist, there was a great opportunity to participate, in 2013, in the CNPQ Young Scientist Award [a Brazilian science promotion agency]. It was the international year for water cooperation and so the theme was water, ”she recalls. “Since I am from Salvador, I am from Bahia, although I have never actually lived in the interior and semiarid, I always knew about the need for access to water in this region. So I thought of something that was simple and feasible to apply in these regions, ”she said.

Recognition of young scientists

Young Earth Champions is a prize awarded by the United Nations to environmentalists between 18 and 30 years old. Seven young people are representing each of the following regions: Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Western Asia. These young people receive funding, mentoring and communication support to broaden their efforts.

Launched in 2017, the award is inspired by the Champions of the Earth Award, which is open to people of all ages and remains the United Nations’ highest environmental honor. Each of the seven winners will receive $ 15,000 to develop their projects and $ 9,000 to invest in communication and marketing, as well as training, mentoring, and invitations to attend high-level UN meetings.

The winners will receive their prize during the Earth Champions Ceremony in New York on September 26, coinciding with the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit.


The Brazilian Anna Luísa Beserra not only learned about the Angolan project Adjany Costa but promised to look for her to discuss a possible exchange. The two will exchange experiences and elaborate on the next steps for the project.