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Circular Stories Programme 2024

An opportunity for youth in southeast Asia to craft newsworthy stories about inspiring circular economy innovations or initiatives in their local communities.

Get ready to unleash your storytelling skills and dive into the world of environmental communications with Circular Stories! This dynamic program offers young environmental changemakers the opportunity to explore the circular economy practices firsthand by uncovering innovative solutions within their communities. Participants learn to research, develop, and pitch compelling, newsworthy stories on local circular innovations impacting their local communities.

Through immersive learning experiences and hands-on storytelling workshops, you will discover how to craft compelling narratives that showcase local circular innovations. By amplifying the voices of your local sustainability pioneers and raising awareness about the importance of the circular economy, Circular Stories empowers participants to become catalysts for positive change in your communities and beyond.

This competition is open to individuals or teams aged 18 to 25 from South East Asia. Competition entries can be made from both individuals or teams.  For more information on eligibility please refer to the document below:

Garbage in Nature

The Story "Pitch"

How might we inspire a transition to a circular economy in local communities by telling the stories of local heroes and innovations?

Participants will be tasked with finding inspiring local circular economy innovations or initiatives that are addressing environmental waste issues. 


This may include initiatives aiming to:

  •  Reduce waste and pollution in public spaces.

  • Improve management systems for solid waste, water, air quality, and climate adaptation.

  • Foster sustainable product design and manufacturing practices.

  • Encourage the reuse and repurposing of materials or products.

  • Promote circular business models that prioritise resource efficiency.

  • Advance sustainable energy solutions and renewable resources.

  • Enhance community engagement and awareness in the circular economy.

  • Reconnect with local cultural heritage to surface circular practices that have existed in the past and could be tapped and innovated for the present

  • Foster a connection to, and an understanding, of the material used in the local environment

  • Support the development of circular supply chains and local circular networks.

Through your narrative, you will showcase these solutions and inspire others to become more active participants in the circular economy.  
We want you to express yourself in ways that resonate with you and your local community, and for your stories to reach a wide audience.  This means that we will accept a diverse range of mediums and languages.

Why Circular Stories?

As our world confronts urgent environmental challenges like waste, pollution, and resource depletion, the need to amplify hopeful stories of those driving positive, sustainable change has never been more crucial. Through Circular Stories, participants are empowered to illuminate local innovations or innovators spearheading solutions within the circular economy. By teaching participants to use their unique voice to showcase circular innovation, we aim to inspire awareness, foster collaboration, and catalyse meaningful action toward a more sustainable, circular, and hopeful future.

Planet Made of Plastic


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July 7


To enter the competition, programme participants must submit their story pitch by this date.

May 31


Eligible youth must submit the registration form by this date to take part in the programme.

June 6-15


Participants work through the toolkit and attend the programme sessions to help them prepare their story pitch.

Week of August 26


Finalists receive 1:1 coaching sessions for additional support for crafting their final stories.

May 1


Youth from SE Asia aged 18-25 can register for the programme as individuals or as a team by completing the registration form.

July 31


The proposals will be reviewed and finalists will be chosen.

Week of August 12


Finalists participate in an immersive online workshop with our industry experts to learn how to produce their full and final story.

September 15


Final stories must be completed and submitted for publication by this date.

Circular Stories Journey


Webinar: Discovering Circularity, Place, Materials and People

Thursday 6 June, 5:00-6:30pm PHT (GMT +8)

In this webinar we will introduce you to the principles of a circular economy and we take you on an immersive journey to help you learn more about the place, materials and people that surround you, whilst also identifying how circularity plays a part in your community and traditions.


  • Roleen Sevillena (Programme Manager, Circular Cities Asia)

  • Dev Albao  (Trustee, Association of Young Environmental Journalists)

  • Suzanna Pomeroy (Director, Circular Cities Asia)


Webinar: Discovering your Story

Thursday 13 June, 12:00-1:00pm PHT (GMT +8)

Webinar two helps you to discover your story. You will learn what makes a good story pitch and hear first-hand experiences of storytelling through a circular economy lens leaving you with all the tools you need to create a pitch for your own circular story.


  • Lillygol (Lilly) Sedaghat (National Geographic Explorer and Multimedia Storyteller)

  • Suzanna Pomeroy (Director, Circular Cities Asia)


Competition Submission: Pitch your Circular Story Idea

Deadline: Sunday 7 July, 11:59pm PHT (GMT +8)

Registered participants will be invited to enter a competition either individually or as a team to submit their own idea for a Circular Story. The submission must be completed using the entry form provided. Note this competition is for a story idea, not a completed story. Winning submissions will be announced Wednesday 31 July.


Immersive Mentoring Workshop for Winning Submissions

Week commencing 26 August

The individuals or teams of the winning submissions will be invited to participate in an immersive mentoring workshop to help develop the stories to their full potential.


  • Lillygol (Lilly) Sedaghat (National Geographic Explorer and Multimedia Storyteller)

  • Dev Albao (Trustee, Association of Young Environmental Journalists)

Final Story Submissions

Deadline: Sunday 15 September, 11:59pm PHT (GMT +8)

The teams that were selected for the Immersive Mentoring Workshop are then invited to submit their full and final story in their chosen format to be published. These entries will also secure a financial completion prize.


Meet the Speakers & Facilitators

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Dev Albao

Dev Albao (they/them) works in the intersections of conservation science, environmental education, sustainable business, and behavior change communications. 


Dev presently resides in Siquijor Island in the Philippines, and serves on the board of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists. Dev loves to weave stories to move people for climate action - as a newspaper columnist, radio host, documentary director, and as a behavior change communications strategist. Their 2023 TEDx talk “What the wilderness tells us about our future” is available on YouTube. 


They are currently the Programmes Manager of The Reef-World Foundation, operating internationally to support governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. Previously, they have been a consultant for the ASEAN-German cooperation project “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to Protect the Marine Environment and Coral Reefs” (GIZ 3RproMar). They also recently helped organize an Incubation program for the WWF Plastic Smart Cities TVA Project in the City of Manila, through the impact-first investment firm xchange, to scale social enterprises innovating to reduce plastic waste leakage to the ocean. These roles stem out from his experience building a movement localizing circular economy with “Wala Usik” in Negros. 


Dev’s journey in conservation began as Island Manager of Danjugan Sanctuary, and led environmental projects and campaigns on natural resource management and circular economy as Executive Director of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation. Dev was a Professional Fellow on Sustainability in Oregon, USA, a graduate of Swedish Institute Management Programme on Sustainable Business, a Negros Occidental Governor's Conservation Achievement Awardee, and a Gen.T Leader of Tomorrow named by Tatler Asia for their work on nature conservancy.

Suzanna Pomeroy
Circular Cities Asia

Suzanna is the Co-Founder and Director of Circular Cities Asia. She has an MA in Philanthropic Studies and is a Global Fellow of the Moving Worlds Institute. Suzanna has a strong background in capacity building, impact evaluation and cross-sector collaboration. Her work has been focused on empowering young entrepreneurs to tackle waste issues with innovative business models.

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Lillygol Sedaghat

Lillygol Sedaghat is a National Geographic Explorer and Multimedia Storyteller specializing in climate solutions in the Asia-Pacific. 


She is the host and producer of the Webby-nominated podcast, “Expedition: Earth,” a Fulbright Storytelling Fellow, and Sustainability Moderator for National Geographic’s thought leader series on plastics, waste management, and the circular economy.


She has presented at the United Nations, National Geographic Live series, The Chautauqua Institute, Disney’s D23’s “Women of Impact” panel, and as a global ambassador for National Geographic's Planet or Plastic? campaign. 


Her work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine three times, National Geographic Learning's AP Human Geography textbook, and the Ministry of Egypt’s 4-6th Grade Social Studies Curriculum. Her most recent stories on the circular economy in Taiwan are forthcoming in TIME Magazine, Imagine5, and Commonwealth Magazine.


Sedaghat holds a B.A. in Political Economy from University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Science in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance from the University of Oxford. She believes in the power of stories to illuminate the wonder of our world.

Roleen Sevillena
Circular Cities Asia

Roleen’s work is focused on learning experience design. She co-creates experiential education programmes that cultivate systems thinking and a greater awareness of circularity and regenerative principles. Roleen is the Programme Manager at Circular Cities Asia (CCAsia) and leads the execution of their circular economy innovation programmes, which equip young innovators in Asia to develop sustainable, circular solutions that address local waste issues. 


She has also done contract work for the 3RproMar project of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), to design and manage the execution of the Circular Connect Competition, which provided a platform for youth in higher education institutions to develop circular economy-focused solutions that help tackle the problem of plastic waste and marine litter in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.


Prior to her work in circular economy innovation, she has worked and volunteered for organisations focused on environmental education and marine conservation. Currently, Roleen is studying her Master’s in Eco-Social Design at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland.


Finalists  of the Circular Stories Programme Competition will be invited to an immersive online workshop with our industry experts to learn how to produce their full and final story.  You will be led through an insightful journey, including 1:1 coaching.  

By the end of the programme you will submit your final story for publication via our platforms, accompanied by a press release promoting your work to publishers across SE Asia.

There will be a small financial incentive for those that successfully submit their story.


All Hands In


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