Sustainability and humanitarian pioneers were honoured on Friday at the annual Zayed Sustainability Prize awards ceremony held at COP28 UAE in Expo City, Dubai.
Image: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (7th R), stands for a photograph the Zayed Sustainability Prize with the winners during COP28 UAE, Al Wasl Plaza, Expo City. Seen with HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, and COP28 President (L). (Hamad Al Kaabi / UAE Presidential Court)
Launched in 2008, the Zayed Sustainability Prize rewards small and medium enterprises, nonprofit 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.
This year's 11 winners were elected by a distinguished panel of jury members, who evaluated each submission for its contribution and commitment to delivering impactful, innovative, and inspiring solutions across the six categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water, Climate Action and Global High Schools.
To strengthen its commitment to promoting sustainable and humanitarian development, the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be increasing its endowment, from $3.6m to $5.9m, effective immediately.
H.E. 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 $1m to each of our distinguished winners in Health, Food, Water, Energy and Climate Action, and $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.”
With a larger fund, the Prize can broaden its support for innovative solutions that not only positively impact the environment but also improve the well-being and economic development of the world’s most climate-vulnerable communities.
- Climate Action category (new): Namibian SME, Kelp Blue was awarded for cultivating 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.
- Health category: Indonesia’s doctorSHARE was awarded for its pioneering work in bringing healthcare access to hard-to-reach areas, notably with barge-mounted floating hospitals.
- 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 benefitting more than 7,000 people.
- Energy category: Rwandan SME, Ignite Power was awarded 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 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%.
- Global High Schools category: This award encourages youth to take an active role in supporting their communities and becoming future sustainability leaders. This year's recipients are 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; KORT Education Complex (Pakistan), representing South Asia; and finally, Beijing High School No. 35 (China), representing East Asia & Pacific.
The chair of the jury and former President of the Republic of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, said: "This year's winners have demonstrated a remarkable wave of ingenuity in their solutions to address urgent global challenges. We have confidence that these winners will catalyse substantial and scalable change in communities worldwide, propelling us towards vital climate action objectives and forging a path to a sustainable future for all."