Miss Earth Namibia 2023 and second Miss Namibia runner-up last year, Martha Kautanevali, recently took part in the Miss Earth 2023 pageant in Vietnam.
She says it was one of her best experiences ever.
Kautanevali left the country on 28 November to represent Namibia at the pageant at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on 22 December.
She was among 86 contestants battling it out for the crown.
The Namibian caught up with Kautanevali on her arrival in the Land of the Brave on Wednesday.
She said embarking on the Miss Earth 2023 journey was an extension of her commitment to sustainable development as a civil engineer in an era of green hydrogen initiatives in her own country.
“I have been passionate about environmental awareness, community development, and youth empowerment, so I saw the pageant as a powerful platform to integrate these pillars into a global conversation,” she said.
Kautanevali’s costume managed to end among the top 20 best national costumes.
Her outfit was designed by local designer Melissa Poulton.
She aimed to actively promote environmental awareness at the event, Kautanevali said.
“From initiating community-driven projects like my ‘Donate a Tree’, which we also presented as the eco-project for Africa, to raising awareness on sustainable practices, I aimed to create a lasting impact aligned with the competition’s ethos,” she said.
She saidjourney has taught her that effective communication is paramount in driving environmental change.
“As a civil engineer, I leveraged my skills to bridge the gap between technical solutions and public engagement, fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of environmental, social and economic aspects.
“I will apply the same principles to our new project with the green hydrogen commissioner of Namibia and many more.”
She said her experiences during the event were enriched by cultural exchanges with fellow contestants.
“Collaborating on eco-friendly projects highlighted the importance of community involvement and reinforced my belief in the transformative power of collective action.
“Also standing by my beliefs, who I am, and what I went there for, because it was packed with people with different agendas and beliefs,” she said.
Kautanevali said she gained profound insights into global environmental challenges.
“This experience reinforced the urgency of fostering international collaboration to address environmental issues collectively.
“I also learned that it’s important for governments and people to support pageants, especially the candidates, because not only does this affect the outcome of participation, but it also boosts the country’s economy and all initiatives that may align with the pageant in question,” she said.
Umbi Karuaihe-Upi, the chief executive of the Miss Namibia organisation, says she is proud of Kautanevali’s achievements.
This year, Kautanevali said, she will continue advocating sustainable development.
“I plan to collaborate with organisations, leveraging my civil engineering background to implement projects that address specific environmental challenges, while promoting community development and youth employment,” she said.
She urged Namibians to support her Donate a Fruit Tree initiative to collectively make Namibia green.
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