Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, right, shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during the Youth Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Environmental activism is taking hold in recent months among environmental activism in the Balearic Islands, as an antidote to the uncertainty that has gripped the islands during the pandemic. Riding the wave, British environmental philanthropist Ben Goldsmith has promoted an award on behalf of his daughter Iris who died in an accident in 2019 at the age of 15 – and to recognize the work of the new generation of environmentalists. The ‘One minute for your island’ contest appeals to the creativity and activism of young people aged 15 to 18 in the face of environmental challenges in Ibiza and Formentera.

My dear Iris had a lifelong love of the natural world, had a gentle way of relating to animals, and had a special reverence for the sea, recalls Ben Goldsmith. We want to pay tribute to her life with this program to empower adolescents who love nature as she did, focusing efforts on cleaning and restoring their local environment.

The One minute for your island’ contest will award 500 euros to the best video of 60 seconds or less (mini-document, interview, or animation) that exposes an environmental problem on the islands and points out solutions. The most prominent participants will be eligible for the Iris Prize, a global prize that will be launched at the end of the year with scholarships to put the best ideas into practice.

The initiative has been organized by the IbizaPreservation Foundation, one of the three sponsored foundations on the islands (along with Menorca and Mallorca) by Ben Goldsmith, nephew of the legendary founder of The Ecologist Ted Goldsmith. The three foundations have funded conservation programs on the islands worth 1.5 million euros in the last decade and have intensified their work in recent months, as part of the recovery from the pandemic.

We have helped create a sustainability observatory to measure the effect of tourism and minimize its impact, warns Goldsmith. Responsible tourism with nature will continue to add value to the islands. That is why it is important to involve the hotel sector and restaurants in the change. What we cannot continue with is the predatory tourism that has prevailed until now.

Its link with the islands has been woven with projects such as the protection of Posidonia by the biologist Manu San Felix. The underwater seagrass meadows are the true secret of the Mediterranean and the great bioindicator of water quality. We have worked on the protection of marine areas, with the involvement of fishermen, and then on land, in the prohibition of single-use plastics and in promoting local production.

The three foundations in the Balearic Islands are part of The Conservation Collective network with special attention to islands as close or distant as the Elias, the Cyclades, Barbadosor Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines. Goldsmith claims to have a special love for Spain, the most biodiverse country in Europe, and especially for the Balearic Islands, where youth activism is taking hold.

The Impulsores del Cambio project, sponsored by the Save the Med Foundation and the Jesús Serra Foundation, is aimed at young people between the ages of 15 and 18 on the islands and aims to reward initiatives to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics in schools, homes, and communities local.

Menorca without plastic gives its name to another project championed by several NGOs, companies, and local institutions, with the ambition of achieving a specific certification for the island and aimed above all at the generation of 0 Plastic Warriors.

In Mallorca, meanwhile, the Education for Life initiative has been working for 15 years to re-naturalize schools and for a new holistic learning model. In the latest edition, in 2019, the Schools for the Future initiative was presented, which for the first time brings together students and teachers to introduce climate change into the curriculum.

What happens when a handful of students with a conscience and a group of teachers with a conscience join forces? Was the question launched by Guillem Ferrer, activist, and founder of Education for Life, who aspires to celebrate the annual meetings each fall on the island?