Abu Dhabi: In recognition for their work in improving people’s lives, the winners for the Zayed Sustainability Prize were honoured on Monday during a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).
Launched back in 2008 under the name of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the award has expanded both its scope and mandate beyond sustainable energy with the introduction of five winning categories such as health, food, water, energy and global high schools. The prize fund for each winning category is $600,000 (Dh2.2 million).
The awards ceremony was attended by several UAE Rulers, senior UAE government officials and international leaders, including His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
prize fund for the winners in each category
Since its inception, the Zayed Sustainability Prize has impacted 318 million people globally through projects that have been funded by the award, highlighting the importance of the prize and its significant reach.
For each of the five different categories the prize evaluates the winning candidate based on the impact of their work and the positive change it has led to in the communities they are assisting. The prize aims to not only fund the winners, but to also raise awareness on their work with the goal of inspiring others to pick up the mantle and to play their part in helping communities around the world gain access to clean energy, water and food.
Health category: We Care Solar
The winner for this year’s health category was the organisation We Care Solar, with the group having created solar suitcases which provides health facilities without access to electricity with tools such as fetal monitoring, medical lighting, and communication. The organisation has so far helped 1.8 million women give birth with the use of their solar suitcases.
■ Laura Stachel, executive director:
“The winning fund is going help us make sure that every mother has a safe delivery as we expand our programme and build a regional centre in East Africa. We have already reached 1.8 million women, and so that’s 1.8 million mothers and their newborns which is 3.6 million beneficiaries. The prize money is going to help us probably double those numbers over the next few years. This is an easy problem to solve because we already have the technology and the solar electricity which can reach any health facility where there is sun. We just need the will and for people to join together to say we care enough for mothers and newborns.”
Food category: Sanku
Winning in this year’s food category was the non-profit organisation Sanku. The group works with communities vulnerable to malnutrition by providing local mills with innovative technology machines that adds micronutrients to their flour. The group currently has 150 such machines installed in flour mills in five East African countries, with 1 million people reached so far by their work.
■ Felix Brooks-church, founding president:
“Thanks to the prize fund we are going to be able to buy, manufacture, import and install 300 more machines. Each machine feeds up to 6,000 people everyday, and so with the new machines we’re going to be able to reach 2 million people, more than double the amount of people already impacted. Everyday 16,000 children die because of micronutrient deficiencies, and the saddest thing is this is absolutely preventable if they had the right diet and right nutrients in their food.”
Water category: ECSOFTT
Having implemented 50 sustainable water projects in five countries and allowing more than 500,000 people access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, the group ECOSOFTT were awarded as the winners for the water category.
■ Marcus Lim, co-founder and managing director:
“Winning this prize comes at a very important stage for us as we are looking to scale up our plans in existing markets as well as expanding to new areas. Today, we have reached 250,000 people mainly in India and South East Asia. The funding is going to play a big part in achieving our five-year plan of reaching 1 million people. Water is a source of life, and so when we provide communities with access to clean water it creates such a huge impact on their lives.”
Energy category: BBOXX
The winner for the energy category was the company BBOXX, with the company having connected over 675,000 people living off-grid with clean and affordable electricity. The company has removed 87,000 tonnes of CO2 per year as a result of their sustainable energy model, with at least 3,000 homes being connected to electricity everyday.
■ Anshul Hiteshkumar Patel, chief commercial officer
“We’re very humbled by winning the prize and it’s a great recognition for our work. We want to use this win to continue innovating in both our technology and distribution model, and to find better ways of servicing customers. Our work is fundamental for transforming the Africa energy scene and also transforming the lives of the people we’re reaching. For most customers they’ve never had access to electricity so this is a first experience for them and only the start of something more for them.”
Global High Schools winners
Winning in this year’s global high schools for the Middle East and North Africa was the UAE’s very own American School of Dubai. The school has proposed a number of plans such as installing a biodigester for organic food, creating a data dashboard to monitor their energy and water use, and also having automatic timers for air conditioners in faculty housing
Yasmin Gulamhusein, student:
“This prize is a big opportunity for us to be leaders in sustainability and to inspire other young people to move forward and to start doing the same. All of our projects are going to help our school become more energy efficient, which means less energy waste and a better impact for our environment. As young people it’s important that we get involved in sustainability because we’re going to be the future generations who have to live with the consequences if we don’t tackle the environmental issues now.”