In early July 2020, the Ashden Award winners were announced, proving that we can come out of this global pandemic situation with better, smarter, GREENER solutions.
There is no better time for these Awards. As we know from the recent World Economic Forum report, “when the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic there can be no business-as-usual, with today’s destruction of the natural world threatening over half of global GDP.” We are facing a pivotal time and there is no return to normal — we must leapfrog ourselves and consider wildly different solutions to carry ourselves forward. There really is no other option: we need to focus on ‘nature-first approaches’ solutions, writes Damian Carrington on The Guardian. This is how we create jobs and grow the future economy.
Ashden hosts annual awards, established in 2001, that identify ‘the most exciting climate action around the world,’ and this year’s winners demonstrate their commitment to expanding approaches to climate action across sectors and regions. They build partnerships between existing organizations and startups, and work around the world to influence policy. And they have some big names on their side: their Patron is His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Eleven winners were chosen for the 2020 Awards. Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said:
“There’s growing momentum for a green recovery from coronavirus, one that escapes the failures of the past and propels us toward a low-carbon future. This new future is within our reach, as long as we back radical climate solutions.
“This year Ashden has uncovered outstanding pioneers worldwide. Our award winners are bringing clean energy to the world’s poorest people and creating sustainable buildings and transport. They are protecting our rainforests and tackling the impact of deadly heatwaves.”
The winners span a range of regions and projects — one of the things I like about these types of awards (much like the green business competition we always cover, ClimateLaunchpad) is that so many of the winners focus on climate solutions in the developing or lean nations. There is so much innovation happening around the world, and yet often it’s the innovations and voices from the tech centers of the US and UK that take headlines. What is compelling about the Ashden Awards is that it features winning projects from around the world, and pairs them with partners with global clout for broader recognition.
The criteria for winning reflect the radical shift businesses must make to move us towards a greener future:
- Radical decarbonization
- Reducing inequality
- Participation and democratization
- Additional benefits, like health, air quality, community engagement, or job growth.
The application process closed in December 2019 for this round. Here are some of the winning companies from the 2020 Ashden Awards. Click here to see the full list.
- Sharing solar energy with neighbors to save energy in Bangladesh, with SolShare
- Togo, a small country nestled between Ghana and Benin on Africa’s west coast, has energy issues – only about 35% of homes have access to energy. The Togolese Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency works to deliver on- and off-grid energy.
- Saving the Amazon with seeds with seed collection business Rede de Sementes do Xingu.
- Supporting women-owned businesses to build compressed-earth bricks to support more sustainable building and expand women’s entrepreneurship opportunities with BuildUp Nepal.
Some of the winning organizations are quite large, like the Natural Resource Defense Council and United Nations Development Programme, though the awards to go specific projects, like supporting a microgrid project in Yemen and dealing with sustainable solutions to heat waves that plague India with NRDC’s Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan.