President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan awards Zayed Sustainability Prize to Sumiya Bibi, an orphan student at KORT Education in Pakistan. Image Credit: UAE Presidential Court

Dubai: Pakistan’s largest orphan school ‘KORT Education’ has won the prestigious Zayed Sustainability Prize at COP28 being held at Expo City, Dubai.

The school for children who became orphans in the 2005 devastating earthquake in Pakistan is run by a charity Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT). More than 87,000 people had died in the earthquake leaving behind thousands of helpless orphans.

UAE President His Higness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan awarded the winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s global award in sustainability and humanitarianism, during a ceremony held on Friday at COP28 UAE in Expo City Dubai.

Sumaiya Bibi, who lost her parents in the 2005 earthquake, received the award on behalf of KORT at the ceremony.

The event was attended by numerous heads of delegations participating in COP28, ministers, senior government officials, and Prize winners and finalists.

Zayed Sustinability Prize

The Prize honours the legacy of UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, by rewarding small and medium enterprises, non-profit organisations, and high schools that are addressing health, food, energy, water and climate-related challenges. For over 15 years, through its 106 previous winners, the Prize has transformed the lives of 384 million people worldwide.

To strengthen its commitment to promoting sustainable and humanitarian development, the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be increasing its endowment, from US $3.6M to US $5.9M, effective immediately.

Zayed’s legacy

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed congratulated the winners, praising their efforts in promoting sustainability and encouraging them to continue their important contributions in this field.

His Highness emphasised that the UAE is steadfast in building upon its established legacy in sustainability, a foundation laid by the country’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

In this regard, His Highness highlighted the significant role of the Zayed Sustainability Prize in advancing sustainable development, serving humanity, and empowering innovators, entrepreneurs, and youth to actively contribute towards making a positive difference for our planet.

Zayed Sustainability Prize 2023 winners-1701513757947
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (7th R), stands for a photograph with the Zayed Sustainability Prize winners at Expo City in Dubai on December 1. Image Credit: UAE Presidential Court

Empowering vulnerable

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, and COP28 President, said: “Today, the UAE reaffirms its dedication to combat climate change and empower vulnerable communities as we award US $1 million to each of our distinguished winners in Health, Food, Water, Energy and Climate Action, and US $150,000 to each Global High Schools winner. This substantial funding will help scale their innovative solutions and deliver transformational progress around the world, especially across the Global South.”

Thank you UAE

Speaking to Gulf News, UK-based Pakistani businessmen Chaudhry Mohammed Akhtar who founded the KORT along with his friend after the 2005 earthquake, said: “A proud moment for Pakistan, and for our orphan children who received this momentous award of The Best Global School in South Asia. Our efforts for the last 18 years have been recognised by the UAE. Thank you UAE.”

“At KORT, we believe that it is the right of every child to be protected, taken care of physically, psychologically, and emotionally, and these rights do not change when children become orphans,” said the Chairman of KORT.

Chaudhry Mohammd Akhar, Chairman of KORT, with Sumiya Bibi (left) and Kinza Bib (right) at receiving the Zayed Sustainability Prize in Dubai on Friday, December 1 Image Credit: Supplied

He added that as a non-profit organisation, KORT has been dedicated to supporting and providing orphaned children with excellent education, boarding facilities, food, clothing, and medical care.

“We are providing quality education including boarding facilities to more than 1,000 orphans at our KORT Education Complex in Kashmir.”

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Prize Winners

Climate Action Category

In the new Climate Action category, Kelp Blue, a Namibian SME, won the Prize for its ambitious efforts to cultivate large-scale kelp forests in deep waters, contributing to the restoration of ocean biodiversity while capturing 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. Additionally, their operations have generated job opportunities in coastal communities.

Health Category

In the Health category, Indonesia’s doctorSHARE was awarded the Prize for its pioneering work in bringing healthcare access to hard-to-reach areas, notably with barge-mounted floating hospitals. Their impact is substantial, having treated over 160,000 patients.

Food Category

In the Food category, Gaza Urban & Peri-urban Agricultural Platform (GUPAP) from Palestine, won for its contributions to supporting a more resilient agricultural sector in Gaza. The NPO facilitates access to locally produced food, providing job security to 200 women agriprenuers and benefiting more than 7,000 people.

Energy Category

In the Energy category, Ignite Power, an SME from Rwanda, was awarded the Prize for its transformative efforts to provide affordable electricity to last-mile communities across Sub-Saharan Africa. Their pay-as-you-go solar solutions provided electricity to 2.5 million people and prevented 600,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Beyond access to clean energy, Ignite Power has introduced solar powered irrigation solutions and generated 3,500 local jobs.

Water Cartegory

In the Water category, Eau et Vie, an NPO from France, won for its contributions to ensuring access to clean water in impoverished areas by installing taps in urban homes. They have increased water access for 52,000 people in 27 communities across 10 cities. Furthermore, they raised awareness of hygienic practices for 66,000 individuals and reduced the cost of water by 75%.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize also engages young people through its Global High Schools category and encourages youth to take an active role in supporting their communities and becoming future sustainability leaders. The Prize’s 47 Global High Schools winners have impacted the lives of over 55,186 students and 453,887 people in their wider communities.

Global High Schools

The recipients of the Global High Schools awards are KORT Education Complex (Pakistan), representing South Asia; Colegio De Alto Rendimiento De La Libertad (Peru), representing The Americas; Gwani Ibrahim Dan Hajja Academy (Nigeria), representing Sub-Saharan Africa; International School (Morocco), representing the Middle East & North Africa; Northfleet Technology College (United Kingdom), representing Europe & Central Asia; and finally, Beijing High School No. 35 (China), representing East Asia & Pacific. .