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Mexicans Wave at Volvo Adventure Victory


The first prize in the Volvo Adventure, the world's most significant environmental initiative for young people, has gone to Latin America for the first time as the HUNAB team from the Yukatan coast of Mexico beat competition for the US$10,000 first prize with the UK's Isle of Man team in second and India in third.


Students Francisco Chuc, Griselda Gambrielson, Julio Martinez, Sugeily Pech and Vianey Kantún gave the performance of their lives on stage at the Volvo Hall of a project that was universally praised by the International Jury whose citation read;


Through the imagination of children, a truly sustainable entrepreneurial model has come to life with benefits for their families, environment and local economy.  Using only 900 litres of water, each child has taken responsibility for a small aquaculture pond, providing a sustainable harvest and a nursery for repopulating the local waterways once they have been cleaned.  This ingenious project has allowed the children to earn extra money to support their ongoing schooling and helped to spread the aquaculture ponds to other students and improve their environment.  These young leaders are deserving winners of the Volvo Adventure Final 2009.


With a multi-layered, well researched and exceptionally argued case built around aquaponics and hydroponics in the Yukatan wetlands, the HUNAB campaign (HUNAB means the humans and nature living in harmony) which has been underway since 2005 has convincingly demonstrated that economic and environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand.


Commenting on the victory of her team, Maritza Aurora Morales Casanova said, "We have been working on our environmental project for five years and this is the end of the beginning of a very exciting future" adding, "Mexico has endured a lot of bad news recently and we hope our victory in the Volvo Adventure can help bring back a smile to the face of all Mexicans, as well as inspiring young environmentalists all over the world."


Said HUNAB team captain Griselda Gambrielson (15), one of 4 Directors of the project aged between three to 17-years-old, "We were very proud and honoured just to be here in Gothenburg for the Volvo Adventure World Final, but winning the first prize is amazing." She added "US$10,000 is fantastic when the average monthly salary is US$50 but the money, which we will reinvest in our project is less important than our message, at home and abroad."


Concluded Griselda "This has been a real team effort including our class mates back home in Yukatan and we would like to thank every other team for their congratulations and also a big thank you to Volvo for making this possible."


Siv Persson of WWF, the Chairperson of the Volvo Adventure International Jury said, "All 10 projects were worthy of their place on the global stage, but each of the teams on the podium were exceptional, with Mexico first amongst equals with an innovative and multi-dimensional project.


"2009 is the eighth year of the Volvo Adventure and although we are experiencing the most turbulent economic conditions since it started, we owe it to young environmentalists worldwide - and the environment they are tirelessly working to sustain - NOT to let them down and find a way to maintain what I believe is an unstoppable momentum," insisted Siv Persson, who has served on the International Jury since its inception in 2002.


Making the presentation to the teams, Lex Kerssemakers, President Volvo Car Overseas at Volvo Car Corporation said, "The connection between Volvo's brand values and the environment is inexorable and with the Volvo Environment Prize and the Volvo Adventure, Volvo holds the ‘crown jewels' of the environmental world."


He added, "The International Jury had an almost impossible task in determining the winners of the eighth Volvo Adventure and there are no winners and losers, only winners and champion winners and my congratulations - and undisguised admiration - go to the HUNAB team from Mexico, the teams from the Isle of Man and India.


"But," he concluded, "Let us not forget those amongst the record 400 teams of young environmentalists across 56 other countries worldwide who may not have made it to the World Final, but will certainly have made an impact - and a difference - in their own locality."


Runners-up and winners of the US$6,000 second prize was the visionary ‘tREeCycle project from the Queen Elizabeth II High School on the Isle of Man, combining various initiatives such as planting a tree nursery at school, building a bike shed from disused plastic bottles and encouraging ‘Cycle Buses,' to combat the environmentally unfriendly ‘school run.'


In third place, winning US$4,000 was the Govt. High School Tilak Nagar Gudhiyari in Raipur, India, the capital of the newly formed State of Chhattisgarh, whose Water Drop, a Precious Pearl project successfully reduced the wastage and created a more efficient use of the town's precious public water supply."


The Volvo Adventure is organised by Volvo Cars and AB Volvo is association with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Scouts Association and WWF. / /

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