By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
A 20-year-old Filipina chef was recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the Young Champion of the Earth for the Asia-Pacific Region for her outstanding ideas to protect the environment.
Louise Mabulo, chef and founder of the Cacao Project and Culinary Lounge, was given the recognition for boosting farmers’ income through climate-resilient cocoa.
She is one of seven young entrepreneurs who have been recognized around the world for their big ideas for environmental change.
The winners will receive their award during the Champions of the Earth Ceremony in New York City on Sept. 26 coinciding with the annual United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit.
Through the Cacao Project, Mabulo has trained over 200 farmers in agro-forestry techniques, planting more than 70,000 trees across 70 hectares of land and restoring land devastated during the onslaught of typhoon “Nina” (international name “Nock-ten”) in 2016.
She also established a Culinary Lounge to source high-value ingredients from local farmers and encourage home-grown food.
Mabulo observed that many cocoa trees remained standing after typhoon Nina hit Bicol Region.
Since the Philippines is one of the most cyclone-prone countries in the world, she had the idea of making high-value and climate-resilient cocoa available to farmers to bring them income in the wake of such disasters, while weather-proofing their farms in the long-term.
“I had never imagined that the typhoon could cause such wide-scale devastation,” she said.
“At the same time, I had noticed that farming is often associated with poverty. I am dedicated to fight that stigma, to bring value to the community, and restore biodiversity,” she added.
The Young Champions from each region will receive seed funding, mentoring, and communications support to amplify their efforts.
The prize, powered by Covestro, is awarded every year by UNEP to young environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30.