Abu Dhabi: As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming COP28 UAE, the Zayed Sustainability Prize continues its legacy of recognising pioneers in the realm of sustainability.
This year, the spotlight shines brightly on the food category, where three exceptional finalists are making great strides in the world of agriculture. Their innovative solutions are not only transforming farming practices but also empowering communities and driving progress in global food security.
Each of these remarkable finalists brings a unique perspective and approach to addressing the pressing challenges in our global food systems. Their work underscores the Prize’s commitment to celebrating organisations who are not only redefining sustainability but also fostering a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
They demonstrate the power of collective action and innovation in driving positive change in the world of food sustainability, which will be the subject of important dialogues later this year at COP28 UAE.
Meet thethree impressive food category finalists and learn more about their significant innovations:
Gaza Urban & Peri-urban Agricultural Platform (GUPAP): Empowering Female Agripreneurs in Gaza
Gaza Urban & Peri-urban Agricultural Platform (GUPAP), a Palestinian non-profit organisation established in 2013 has a mission to enhance local food systems and promote food sovereignty in Palestine. At the core of their transformative journey lies the innovative ‘Community-led Solidarity Marketing in Crisis’ (CLSM) approach.
As GUPAP embarked on their mission, they confronted significant challenges spurred by a protracted crisis, including economic setbacks for female agripreneurs and a lack of trust in small and medium sized enterprise (SME) products among local traders.
It was in the face of these hurdles that GUPAP introduced the CLSM approach, ushering in a turning point that saw the acquisition of 116 product label statements for SMEs. This move bolstered trust and integration of these products in supermarkets and selling points, ultimately boosting productivity. In this endeavour, 18 tons of local agricultural products were generated, and an impressive income of $72,000 was realised.
Ahmed Sourani, co-founder and General Coordinator of GUPAP, praised the impact of the novel approach: “CLSM has shown a tangible positive impact on the quality of life of women producers, as well as vulnerable and poor women-headed families. The approach contributed to the resilience of female farmers to potential social, economic, technological, and environmental challenges”.
GUPAP’s commitment to the empowerment of women in agriculture is evident. They perceive women as the linchpin of Palestine’s food system resilience, spurring them to expand the reach and influence of the CLSM approach.
Their vision extends to becoming a leading organisation that fosters collective action for sustainable development, underscoring the pivotal role of women in the construction of robust food systems.
Sourani concluded by emphasising their steadfast pursuit, “We will continue learning and disseminating our CLSM approach, targeting hundreds of women agripreneurs and thousands of poor and vulnerable families. GUPAP aims to contribute to enhancing the resilience and sustainability of women SMEs and the local food system”.
Regen Organics: Innovative Agricultural Inputs from Kenya
Regen Organics, the largest producer of regenerative agriculture inputs in Sub-Saharan Africa, redefines sustainable development through its innovative circular economy model. The organisation tackles urban waste issues while transforming farming practices, diverting organic waste from landfills to create climate-resilient, eco-friendly products.
Key to their approach is soil investment, often overlooked in the pursuit of food security. As David Auerbach, Co-Founder of Regen Organics, notes, “It’s really about investing in the soil. If we need to actually improve food security, we need to be able to produce a lot more food.”
Soil enrichment drives increased productivity and sustains improvements over multiple growing seasons, bolstering agriculture’s resilience to climate change.
Regen Organics has already made a significant impact, benefitting over 200,000 urban residents and supply-chain actors while creating more than 400 jobs through inclusive circular business practices. Their products have reached over 15,000 farmers, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices and environmental protection.
In a world projected to reach a population of 10 billion by 2050, Regen Organics’ commitment to decarbonise food, feed and fuel production aligns with the urgent need for innovative solutions in emerging markets like Africa and Asia.
With a vision that extends beyond just producing eco-friendly products, Regen Organics offers a holistic approach to agriculture and waste management that benefits both the environment and society. Their dedication to creating a more sustainable future is vital in addressing the global food security challenges of the 21st century.
Semilla Nueva: Advancing Biofortified Maize Seeds in Guatemala
Semilla Nueva, a Guatemalan nonprofit, has embarked on a transformative mission to combat malnutrition and enhance food security by introducing biofortified maize seeds. Within a region grappling with profound nutritional challenges, their efforts are nothing short of remarkable.
“These nutrient-rich seeds address deficiencies in zinc, iron and protein, offering empowerment to both farmers and communities alike,” says Curt Bowen, Executive Director & Co-founder of Semilla Nueva, ‘and we aim to make a tangible change in farmers’ and children’s lives today, while building the technologies, strategies and partnerships to help us fix the problem at a structural level.’
What sets Semilla Nueva apart is their commitment to monitoring and evaluating the real-world impact of their initiatives. Those who embrace these biofortified seeds witness a significant upswing in income, with an average increase of $182, and a 30 per cent reduction in crop losses, thanks to the seeds’ enhanced resilience to varying weather conditions.
Semilla Nueva’s approach extends beyond seed development; they actively collaborate with seed companies and governments, incentivising the sale of affordable biofortified seeds. Through this comprehensive strategy, they are paving the way for a more equitable and sustainable food system.
By 2035, Semilla Nueva envisions a world where biofortified maize seeds not only compete with non-biofortified alternatives but also empower three million farmers to enhance the nutrition of over 100 million of the world’s most vulnerable populations. This vision reflects their commitment to building a better, more sustainable future, one in which no one goes hungry.
Honouring Prize winners at COP28 UAE
Since its inception in 2008, the Zayed Sustainability Prize has been a beacon of hope, dedicated to honouring the legacy of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Over the years, the award has provided a platform for its 106 winners to transform the lives of more than 378 million people worldwide. These remarkable organisations and high schools have demonstrated that innovation and sustainability go hand in hand, offering impactful solutions that drive positive change.
As we look ahead to COP28 UAE, where the 2023 Prize winners will be revealed on December 1 2023, the Prize’s influence extends far beyond accolades. It’s about the tangible difference these winners make in the world—transforming lives, fostering sustainability and paving the way for a more equitable future. Learning their stories can inspire us all to work collectively toward a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow.