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His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Moon Jae-In, President of South Korea, at the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, held at Expo 2020 Dubai last Monday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Four start-ups that are positively impacting the lives of local communities, and 10 innovative high schools, were declared winners for the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2022 on Monday. The 13th edition of the $3 million (Dh11.02 million) prize will once again transform the lives of hundreds of beneficiaries, recipients told Gulf News a day after the winners were announced.

Dr Sebastian Groh

“The prize money for this award is indeed sizable, and [bigger than] any other award available. We feel an enormous sense of happiness at receiving this recognition and award. And amidst the huge level of attention the prize has brought to us, we know we must deliver on the promises we have made. It is our responsibility,” Dr Sebastian Groh, managing director at SOLshare, told Gulf News. SOLshare, an SME based in Bangladesh that installs solar power microgrids for energy-poor communities, won the prize in the Energy category.

David Pong

“This prize money brings us one step closer to providing safe drinking water to 30 million more people in disaster-hit or rural communities. More importantly, this recognition gives us credibility, both spotlighting our innovation and rallying the world to work towards a sustainable future,” added David Pong, co-founder and CEO at Wateroam. The Singapore-headquartered SME was recognised for its portable, water filtration systems that have already served 150,000 people in 38 countries.

Winner announcement

The 2022 winners were announced on Monday at the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, held at Expo 2020 Dubai, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Moon Jae-In, President of South Korea.

Overall impact

Till date, there have been 96 Zayed Sustainability Prize winners, and the funds have improved the lives of more than 370 million people in 150 countries. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, launched the prize in 2008 as a tribute to his father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his sustainability legacy.

‘A bright future’

This year, each winning SME in the Health, Food, Energy, and Water categories received $600,000 (Dh2.2 million) to further sustainability efforts in their respective fields, while each of the winning schools from six world regions received $100,000 (Dh367,000) to pursue green tech and promote education.

Aurora Calderon

“A bright future is only possible with a healthy planet. Through our winnings, we aim to convert cooking oil into biodiesel to power our generator, and supplement the solar power we use for school operations. Our students will also create awareness on sustainability so that they can spur other youngsters to develop their own clean solutions,” said Aurora Calderon, principal at the Instituto Iberia, a private school in the Dominican Republic with nearly 800 students.

Zayed Sustainability Prize 2022

Health category winner: Mamotest

An SME operating in Argentina and Mexico, Mamotest operate a tele-mammography network in Latin America. It has thus increased access to early breast cancer diagnosis, and provide life-saving treatment through tele-radiology and the use of artificial intelligence-aided analysis.

Having carried out more than 5,000 diagnoses to date, the network has also provided direct healthcare to 510,000 people visiting its 14 centres.

Food category winner: S4S Technologies

Enabling food processing through the use of solar power, S4S focuses on improving income for women farmers in India. A solar conduction dryer developed by the firm helps farmers convert farm losses to nutrient-rich products that can be preserved for up to a year, thus addressing post-harvest loss. This produce is then provided to landless women farmers, who also receive training from S4S to become micro-entrepreneurs.

Not only does the enterprise therefore prevent food waste and reduce carbon emissions, it also combats malnutrition and income loss among female farmers. It has reportly benefitted more than 35,800 people through its efforts.

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Energy category winner: SOLshare

This enterprise brought affordable solar electricity to the energy-poor in remote, rural communities in Bangladesh. By installing a peer-to-peer energy-trading grid, powered by rooftop solar home systems for remote, households have access to electricity, and can sell excess electricity to the grid. Six charging stations for electrical vehicles also help power nearly 400 electric rickshaws.

Together, these initiatives directly serve 2,000 households, and benefit 10,000 people through 110 microgrids.

Water category winner: Wateroam

The company’s flagship solution produces safe drinking water, and therefore provides dozens of communities in Asia with access to clean water. The solution is not electricity-dependent, and can be powered through a number of sources.

“We use a bicycle pump concept to draw up water and filter it using membrane technology. Our solution, which weighs less than three kilograms and costs just $350 (Dh1,285), readily provides high-quality drinking water for 100 people in a community,” Pong told Gulf News.

It has so far benefited more than 150,000 people in 38 countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vanuatu. As Pong mentioned, the company hopes to ensure access to safe drinking water for 30 million more people by 2030.

Global High Schools winners

The Americas: Instituto Iberia, Dominican Republic.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Sayidina Abubakar Secondary School, Uganda.

Middle East and North Africa: Eastern Mediterranean International School, Israel.

Europe and Central Asia: Liceo Europeo, Spain.

South Asia: Hira School, Maldives.

East Asia and Pacific: UWC ISAK Japan, Japan.