Abu Dhabi – A former prime minister, five schools, an Asian non-profit organisation, an off-grid energy provider and an electric car maker were among nine winners of the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize this year (2016).
The awardees, who were selected from 29 finalists, were honoured during the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in the capital today (January 18).
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, ex-prime minister of Norway and United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for her role in promoting sustainable development. She is credited with being the main catalyst for the current, global multi-lateral dialogue on climate change.
“I will be working on issues that are identical to the vision and legacy of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and I will certainly continue to put a lot of emphasis on renewable energies. Because you cannot have sustainable energy without sustainable development,” she said.
The Zayed Future Energy Prize was established in 2008 to honour and promote the environmental, social, and economic sustainability advocated by the nation’s founding father, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Till date, awards winners have helped improve the lives of 202 million people.
Today’s awards were handed out by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, along with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Commenting on Dr Brundtland’s recognition, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Director General of the Prize, said that she had championed the approach to environment and development as a single issue for nearly 30 years
“Her commitment to equitable human progress helped to ensure that energy access, water security, and clean technology become, and remain, central pillars of sustainable development. Ambitious aims like modern energy access for all by 2030, which is a goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, may never have been conceived if not for her. This award [therefore] recognises Dr. Brundtland for her foresight and vision in conceptualising sustainable development, and for forging a path that ensures the world shares a common purpose around sustainability,” he added.
In the Global High Schools category, one school each was selected from five regions: Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Every winner will get a maximum of $100,000 (Dh367,295) to establish the proposed project.
In the category for non-profit organisations, Kopernik, a sustainable energy provider in Indonesia, received the Prize, which comes with a grant up to $1.5 million (Dh5.51 million). The organisation has so far provided 60,000 units of clean energy technologies including solar lights, solar home systems, water filters, and clean stoves to about 300,000 people in rural and poverty-stricken parts of the country.
“We will use this Prize to reach one million poor Indonesians and help improve their living conditions,” Eva Wojkowska, co-founder and chief operational officer, told Gulf News after the award ceremony.
Off-grid Electric, a solar energy and off-grid electricity provider in Tanzania and Rwanda, received the $1.5 million (Dh5.51 million) among small and medium enterprises. The company allows customers to pay for the power using their cell phones, which has helped ensure energy access in a region that is underserved by electricity grids.
BYD China, a major developer of robust rechargeable batteries and electric vehicles, was recognised among large corporations for its innovative solutions for clean automobiles.
Organisers of the Zayed Future Energy Prize announced earlier that a record 1,437 submissions had been received this year.
“This has been a record-breaking year for the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which is a testament to the leadership shown by the UAE in seeking long-term solutions that will meet our future climate and energy challenges. This continued growth reinforces the Prize’s influence in inspiring and rewarding the world’s innovators and creating a robust, shared knowledge-economy,” Dr Al Jaber had said.
The winners are:
Zayed Prize Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, ex-prime minister of Norway and United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change
Zayed Prize for Small and Medium Enterprises category: Off-grid Electric, Tanzania
Zayed Prize for Not-for-Profit category: Kopernik, Indonesia
Zayed Prize for Global High School, Americas: Institucion Educativa Gabriel Plazas in Colombia
Zayed Prize for Global High School, Europe: SFZ Sudwurttemberg in Germany
Zayed Prize for Global High School, Africa: SOS HG Sheikh Secondary School in Somaliland
Zayed Prize for Global High School, Asia: Korea Science Academy
Zayed Prize for Global High School, Oceania: Cashmere High School in New Zealand
Zayed Prize for Large Corporations category: BYD China