Megan Barnes wins CIWEM Young Environmentalist of the Year 2021 

The Young Environmentalist of the Year (YEOTY) recognises passionate, proactive individuals at the start of their career that are making outstanding contributions in arts, STEM, finance or awareness with positive environmental impact.

It its 7th year, the 2021 Young Environmentalist of the Year title has been awarded to Megan Barnes. The prize included a £500 cash prize, a three-year CIWEM Membership Bursary, a £500 CIWEM gift card and a 2022 Flood and Coast Conference and Expo full-access ticket.

Megan is a graduate flood-risk consultant at Mott MacDonald specialising in
nature-based solutions for water.
She holds a CIWEM graduate membership
and sits on the CIWEM early careers network steering group

Megan is also a member of the WaterAid Volunteer Speaker Network, where she
delivers energised and interactive talks to
5–11-year-olds on issues relating to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

In 2021 Megan was invited to present her views on COP26 at the Flood and Coast
Conference, which went on to be included as part of an Open Letter to COP26 President Alok Sharma. She also f
eatured in 2021's youth-takeover issue of CIWEM's member magazine,The Environment.

This year judging took place virtually and it comprised of two phases: candidates were required to apply via an application form, with shortlisted applicants invited to an interview with the jury panel.

Judges included representative from CIWEM: Rachael Bliss (director of operations) and Dr. Sarah Ward (WRT co-creation specialist, CIWEM honorary Fellow and a member of CIWEM's WEM Pride network) and from the competition sponsor, Jacobs: Richard Ashby-Crane (executive director of operations) and Ariane Brotto (2020 YEOTY winner).

Megan has impressed the judges with her personal environmental journey: not only did she tell a story of her career and her technical knowledge, but she took us into her kitchen and with her on her daily sustainability journeys so that we understood her values, choices and how they fuel her professional work and vice versa. I look forward to seeing her 'Top tips for affordable and accessible environmental changes' list published and on household coffee tables in 2022!” shared Dr. Sarah Ward.

Megan Barnes, 2021 winner said:

Being CIWEM’s Young Environmentalist of the Year is such an incredible honour. I was not a born environmentalist and so my journey to living a more environmentally sustainable life has been one of learning and growth. I still have a lot more to learn and there is still a lot more I would like to achieve. I look forward to working with CIWEM in 2022 and beyond!

CIWEM was delighted to receive many inspiring applications and choosing just one winner has been challenging.

"It was a delight to take part in the judging of the YEOTY. We received some excellent applications and the finalists were exceptional candidates who have a passion for the environment, sharing their knowledge and inspiring others to take action. The winner, Megan, was very inspiring and through her storytelling has motivated me to take action to look at ways in which I can improve my own environmental footprint," said Rachael Bliss.

Dr. Sarah Ward added:

I was surprised and heartened by the level of dedication, passion, enthusiasm and clear technical credentials, as well as the bright, warm personalities that shone through the applications and interviews.

"What I most enjoyed was reading the impressive CVs of so many young water and environmental professionals and hearing how the interview candidates each live their 'environmental dream' through their individual professional and personal choices and actions.

"I had a great experience being a judge – I learned that the water and environment sector is in safe, sustainable and resilient hands and look forward to continuing supporting our young professionals.

Richard Ashby-Crane continued by saying that this year’s submissions saw a: “great range of applicants from diverse geographies and backgrounds and the finalists showed a great marriage of personal and worklife commitment to creating a more sustainable world."

Contuining he added: "All were incredibly engaging due to their passion for environmental change but this was well-supported by their knowledge and experience of the sector and their enthusiasm for learning more and spreading the word.

Two runner-up awards have been offered to India Rayner, water scientist at ARUP and Anthony Carr, environmental engineer at Jacobs for their incredible achievements and passion for the environment.

India Rayner shared:

"It’s a pleasure to work in a field which is ambitiously striving to attain positive environmental change. To achieve this, it is important to keep innovating, think creatively and continue to challenge standard practice and the norms of sustainability. I look forward to continuing to work on regenerating our landscapes and creating healthier ecosystems."

On being recognised as a runner-up Anthony Carr said:

"I’m delighted to be announced as the runner-up for the CIWEM Young Environmentalist of the Year 2021, especially in under a year since fully transitioning to the Environmental sector. Despite missing out on top spot, I am very proud to get this far and have enjoyed engaging in the selection process.

"I now look forward to a continued relationship with CIWEM and contributing to the aim of working towards a safer, more sustainable world."

Entries for the 2022 award will be announced in June, please stay tuned for updates at

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