Aston University Bioenergy Researcher Receives International Recognition From UN

The United Nations has honoured an Aston University visiting researcher for her work within the sustainability and renewable energy sector.

Czaneil Gomez received the 2024 Youth Award from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations' Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP).

Czaneil is an early career researcher from the Philippines based at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

She received the honour for her research conducted at Aston University's Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), which is recognised globally for its expertise in the area of sustainability and bioenergy. During spring 2023 she conducted her research titled 'Harnessing Rice Straw to Empower Rice Farming Communities in the Philippines."

She was presented with her award by Maria Michela Morese, FAO senior natural resources officer and energy team leader on 17 June during GBEP's 11th Bioenergy Week in Rome.

Czaneil said: "Receiving this award recognises my passion and dedication for finding sustainable approaches for rice farming communities in the Philippines.

"My recent research visit to Aston University and working with world-leading experts in sustainable bioenergy was a great experience and has excelled my research skills and knowledge. Receiving the GBEP Youth Award is a big honour and made me realise that regardless of your background, as long as you keep moving forward, anything is possible.

"I am very grateful to the people and institutions who supported me in this. I am now more inspired to continue exploring innovative solutions that promote a more sustainable world, believing that each of us has the power to make a significant impact."

Czaneil was supervised by EBRI researchers Dr Mirjam Röder and Dr Katie Chong. Dr Röder said: "EBRI is committed to capacity building and support early career researchers. Czaneil's GBEP Youth Award success is a fantastic achievement. It shows the importance of empowering future generations to develop skills and knowledge in the field of sustainability and renewable energy for local communities.

"Czaneil is a female engineer from a low-income background, and I have found working with her insightful and inspiring. The experience has emphasised that all ideas, perspectives and voices are relevant to find inclusive solutions in tackling climate change."

This year's Global Bioenergy Partnership Week focused on bioenergy within food production and private sector collaboration to improve sustainable production and use of bioenergy.

Tiziana Pirelli, GBEP secretariat coordinator, said: "Czaneil's work is a shining example of how multifunctional, integrated agrifood systems can benefit both the environment and farming communities.

"Her innovative approach to harness rice straw for biogas demonstrates how sustainable bioeconomy supports rural livelihoods, enhances food and energy security and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. This is precisely the kind of innovation we need to achieve our climate and development goals."