AWARDS/HONOURS/RECOGNITIONS

Zayed Sustainability Prize Announces 30 Finalists During Jury Meeting

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By Ron Chen, Correspondent ASEAN Region

The Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering award for recognising sustainable solutions and humanitarianism, held its Jury meeting to elect winners for its current 2022 cycle, who will be announced during the Prize’s Awards Ceremony at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), this January.

A total of 30 finalists were confirmed and are now vying for 10 awards, across the five categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water, and Global High Schools. This year, the Prize received a remarkable 4,000 applications, marking a significant 68.5 per cent increase in entries compared to the previous cycle, while attracting submissions from a record 151 countries, representing over three quarters of the world’s nations.

The Prize Jury, comprising former heads of state, government ministers and international business figures, convened through a virtual meeting to review shortlisted submissions identified by the Prize’s Selection Committee in August.

In his remarks, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Director-General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize,H.E. Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber highlighted how the Prize continues to act as an enabler and accelerator for global impact, from life-saving health solutions to food security enhancements, and from vital renewable energy to clean water, adding: “The Zayed Sustainability Prize continues to further the legacy and values of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and in particular his vision for humanitarian and  sustainable progress throughout the world”.

The Prize’s Director General went on to say: “As the UAE celebrates its Jubilee this year, the Prize aligns perfectly with the “Principles of the Fifty”, the blueprint for progress that our wise leadership announced earlier this month to expand the country’s positive economic impact globally. The Prize has already improved the lives of millions around the world and will continue to expand as a force for good that contributes to a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. He added that the extensive participation level from knowledge-based economies and emerging markets alike, reflects the current direction towards greater social inclusivity as the world gears up for COP26 and expediated climate action resiliency in the evolving context of post-pandemic recovery.

This year, finalists effectively addressed and proposed solutions for a spectrum of global challenges, often presenting solutions that are integrated and can benefit communities in more than one area, such as power and water synergies. Most entries focused on ecosystems’ resilience and affordability of solutions, underscoring a clear case for the economic benefits of sustainability innovation, while many of those solutions leverage next generation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive impact.

The Chair of the Jury and former President of the Republic of Iceland, H.E. ÓlafurRagnarGrímsson, added: “The innovation and diversity demonstrated in this year’s applications, including inspiring projects envisioned by the youth, is a testament to the Prize’s ongoing ability to engage sustainability pioneers, worldwide, while offering a platform and steppingstone for transformation and added human impact”.

H.E. Grimsson noted that the cycle postponement last year was a necessary step to protect the Prize’s global participants with the advent of COVID-19, however, it enabled the Prize to attract and capture the inspiring concepts developed by forward-thinking organisations in response to one of the world’s most unprecedented crises.

Health finalists focused notably on reinforcing affordable access to healthcare for remote, vulnerable communities and easier and better ways of delivery care, particularly during the pandemic, such as telemedicine. Health entries also focused on the development of technological platforms through automation and data and reporting enhancement and accuracy to safeguard communities from preventable diseases.

The ‘Health’ category finalists are:

•             Mamotest (Argentina), an SME that has an innovative approach to medical imagery through the use of teleradiologycentres in underserved areas.

•             Medic Mobile (United States of America), an NPO that combines R&D and technical design to capture health data for primary healthcare.

•             Project Andiamo Ltd (United Kingdom), an SME that ensures scalable and transportable solutions by combing innovative 3D printing with advances in machine learning to automise processes for custom medical devices.

This year’s Food finalists notably focused on supporting the circular economy through key undertakings such as food waste reduction and waste-to-energy, while also tackling climate change by promoting local inclusion and reducing pollution. More broadly, food security was also top of mind this year with finalists highlighting ways of enhancing argi-tech and improving rural and farmer livelihoods through innovative solutions to sustainably strengthen supply chains, mitigate production challenges, and overcome logistical hurdles.

The ‘Food’ finalists are:

•             Safi Organics (Kenya), a fertiliser production SME working to tackle the challenges of rural farmers having to contend with expensive or inappropriate fertilisers that lead soil acidification and yield loss.

•             S4S Technologies (India), an SME that is committed to empowering rural women and harnessing new technology to reduce food waste and improve income for farmers.

•             TecnologíasAgriBest, S.A. DE C.V. (Mexico), an SME that deploys biotechnology to improve farmer crop yield and facilitate cost savings.

Meanwhile, Energy category contenders presented a diverse array of technical solutions to improve energy access and efficiency. This ranged from energy storage and solar home systems to electrical grids and water solutions generated by the sun, addressing the rapidly growing power needs of various communities, from urban to rural.

The ‘Energy’ category finalists are:

•             ME SOLshare Ltd. (Bangladesh), an SME that created an interconnected microgrid for peer-to-peer energy exchange to enable a more efficient distribution of electricity across rural communities.

•             Planet Ark Power (Australia), an SME that utilises AI and IoT through the first fully two-way electrical grid to reduce energy costs.

•             Tongwei New Energy (China), an SME that integrates smart aquaculture and solar photovoltaics to enhance food security through an innovative business model.

On their part, Water category finalists presented a range of added value innovations that leverage modern technology to achieve ‘clean water for all’ and reduce waterborne diseases and deaths for communities around the world. 

The ‘Water’ category finalists are:

•             Boreal Light GmbH (Germany), a designer and manufacturer SME that creates affordable solar water desalination systems for off-grid communities in Africa.

•             OffGridBox, Inc (United States of America), an SME that deploys microfiltration and UV sterilisation for water purification and desalination through solar.

•             Wateroam (Singapore), an SME committed to tackling the global challenge of contaminated water through portable water filters to serve disaster-hit and rural communities.

The Global High Schools’ finalists presented project-based, student-led sustainability solutions, with finalists divided into 6 regions. The regional finalists include:

The Americas: IniciativasEcológicas (Venezuela), Instituto Iberia (Dominican Republic), and Liceo Arturo Alessandri Palma (Chile).

Europe & Central Asia: JU Gimnazija “Biha” (Bosnia and Herzegovina), LiceoEuropeo (Spain), and Romain-Rolland-Gymnasium (Germany).

Middle East & North Africa: Eastern Mediterranean International School (Israel), Gifted Students School (Iraq), and Umm Al Arab (United Arab Emirates).

Sub-Saharan Africa: Daddies Firm Foundation School (Ghana), Lighthouse Primary and Secondary School (Mauritius), and Sharia Assembly of Uganda (Uganda). 

South Asia: The BlinkNow Foundation (Nepal), Hira School (Maldives), and Man KuwariHansa Higher Secondary School Barela (India).

East Asia & Pacific: Bohol Wisdom School (The Philippines), International School of Asia, Karuizawa (UWC ISAK) (Japan), and Shanghai World Foreign Language Academy (China).

In the Health, Food, Energy, and Water categories, each winner receives USD600,000. The Global High Schools category has six winners, representing six world regions, with each winner receiving up to USD100,000. Since its launch in 2008, the US$3 million Prize has, directly and indirectly, transformed the lives of over 352 million people across 150 countries. Today, the Prize remains a catalyst for addressing the world’s most pressing issues as it continues to drive and deliver long-term impact to various communities around the world.

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