23-year-old marketing student and model from Vietnam, Nguyen Phuong Khanh, won the 18th Miss Earth beauty pageant on November 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines. She bested 86 other contestants from all over the world and is the first-ever woman from Vietnam to win the pageant that aims to promote the protection and preservation of our planet.
The runners-up were Melanie Mader of Austria (Miss Earth – Air 2018), Valeria Ayos of Colombia (Miss Earth – Fire 2018) and Melissa Flores of Mexico (Miss Earth – Water 2018).
Last year’s winner, Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco crowned the new titleholder who will dedicate her year to promote specific projects and often address issues concerning the environment and other global issues through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean-ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
This year’s pageant theme is “Goddesses of the Earth”. The contestants were all wearing their goddesses costumes during the glittering opening number and then they were introduced by continents.
On her final question, “Being a millennial, what is the most pressing issue of your generation?”, Miss Vietnam answered, “The most pressure for our generation, my generation, is our ignorance. We have so many technology, and we just use them in social media and we just care for ourselves. We should spend our time to think and feel what’s happening with the earth right now and when small actions multiplied by million people can transform the world”.
For the first time, Miss Earth increased the semi-finals to Top 18. The Top 16 were selected by the panel of judges and the Miss Earth organization while two other delegates from Mexico and Nepal were winners of the Best Eco-Video and Eco-Media awards that helped them advance to the semi-finals.
Miss Venezuela, Diana Silva passed out backstage before the announcement of the Top 4 finalists. She was reported to be part of the Top 4 and since the show must go on, the organizers decided to replace her with Miss Vietnam.
Miss Lebanon, Salwa Akar received international press attention when she was stripped of her title in Lebanon while participating in the pageant after she posted a photo on Facebook with her arm around Miss Israel Dana Zreik and making peace signs. As a result, she was unable to continue her journey in the competition. Lebanon and Israel are in a long-standing state of war. In a press release, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman Ofir Gendelman reacted on Akar’s dethronement and condemned the “Lebanese apartheid”.
Miss Canada, Jaime Vandenberg left the pageant early due to sexual harassment allegations which was later on supported by Miss England, Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown and Miss Guam, Emma Sheedy. Miss Earth organization released an official statement addressing the issue and urged other candidates to come forward if they experienced any incidents of sexual harassment during the pageant. The organizer also expressed support to the delegates in case they decide to take any further action to the alleged perpetrator.
Miss Earth 2018: Vietnam – Nguyen Phuong Khanh
Miss Earth – Air 2018: Austria – Melanie Mader
Miss Earth – Water 2018: Colombia – Valeria Ayos
Miss Earth – Fire 2018: Mexico – Melissa Flores
Italy – Sofia Pavan
Philippines – Celeste Cortesi
Portugal – Telma Madeira
Venezuela – Diana Silva
Chile – Antonia Figueroa
Netherlands – Margaretha de Jong
Slovenia – Danijela Burjan
South Africa – Margo Fargo
Brazil – Sayonara Veras
Ghana – Belvy Naa
Japan – Mio Tanaka
Montenegro – Katarina Seckovic
Nepal – Priya Sigdel
Romania – Denisse Andor