The turnaround by the Delhi government is no coincidence, thinks Kailash Satyarthi. He was one of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and last month presented the Children’s Peace Prize to his compatriots Nav and Vihaan in The Hague. “I assume that Delhi felt obliged to take draconic measures against air pollution due to Nav & Vihaan Agarwal from Delhi winning the International Children’s Peace Prize with their anti-air pollution project.” In 2020, Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year. Growing up with asthma, Vihaan was frequently made sick by Delhi city’s poor air quality, and the brothers were often unable to play outdoors. By winning the International Children’s Peace Prize the message of the young winners reached 3,573 billion people this year.

173,630 kilograms of waste
After seeing the link between waste and air pollution following Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill collapse, the boys were inspired to create One Step Greener – an initiative which began segregating rubbish and organising waste pickup drives. From just 15 homes, One Step Greener is now a city-wide operation collecting rubbish from more than 1,000 households, schools and offices, and has recycled 173,630 kilograms of waste. Learning materials they created are used in over 100 schools in Delhi and they have given presentations to over 45,000 people on the topic of waste.One Step Greener now has five full-time employees and 11 dedicated young volunteers working towards the goal of a ‘Zero Waste India’.

Growing line of changemakers
The brothers thus join an impressive and growing line of young global changemakers. Last year’s winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize Sadat Rahman was recognized for his involvement in setting up his mobile app Cyber Teens to stop cyberbullying. He started in one area of Bangladesh and after winning the International Children’s Peace Prize he was able to expand throughout Bangladesh, collaborating with the government and the police to build his organisation, and now all schools in Bangladesh work with the app. In 2011, the then unknown Malala Yousafzai was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize, after which she became famous worldwide. In 2013, Malala was awarded the youth award in recognition of her bravery in speaking out for every girl’s right to an education. This was crucial in her winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, becoming the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Other winners, such as Greta Thunberg, Nkosi Johnson and Om Prakash have had major impact on respectively the issues of climate change, children who suffer from HIV/AIDS and child slavery.

Increased impact
Marc Dullaert, Founder and Chair of the KidsRights Foundation, sees that the impact of the International Children’s Peace Prize has increased in recent years. “We started awarding the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2005, based on our belief that children can change the world. The winners, but also many of the other nominees, show every year how great their impact is. It is hopeful to see that more and more policy makers are willing to listen to these change makers. But it is far from enough: much more action is needed to guarantee the rights of children worldwide. For example on the topic of climate change, a looming disaster that forms an extremely high risk for no less than one billion children.”