Image courtesy the Zayed Sustainability Prize

Zayed Sustainability Prize Set to Drive Global Climate Action

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Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) form the backbone of economies around the world. They create jobs, operate in underserved markets and, importantly, contribute to global sustainable development goals.

They can make these contributions because of their ability to innovate in different ways — often with more agility than the industry giants with which they compete.

In order to harness the innovative potential of these organizations , positively impact a wide range of people and accelerate global climate action, the United Arab Emirate’s pioneering global award for sustainability — the Zayed Sustainability Prize — launched the Climate Action category.

The new category is a recognition of the urgent need to address the global climate crisis. It seeks to award SMEs and NPOs that are leading the way in deploying environmental solutions that build climate resilience. The category will further broaden the Zayed Sustainability Prize’s reach and impact by encouraging innovative solutions and initiatives that address the pressing challenge of climate change and its impacts on the environment and society.

Since its establishment in 2008, the Zayed Sustainability Prize has evolved into a global force for good, delivering funding precisely where it is needed most. The US $3.6 million Prize fund recognizes organizations and high schools across the categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water, Climate Action and Global High Schools, with 106 winners positively transforming the lives over 378 million people worldwide.

To date, the Prize has helped more than 11 million people access safe drinking water through winners like ECOSOFTT, the 2019 Prize winner in the Water category. ECOSOFTT, an SME headquartered in Singapore, provides a comprehensive range of solutions to enable homes and communities to become water secure. ECOSOFTT used the Prize fund to scale its impact from Singapore and India, increasing its reach from 250,000 to 500,000 people.

Image courtesy the Zayed Sustainability Prize

As a result of Prize funding and support, over 2.3 million people have gained access to nutritious food. Tanzania-based Sanku is a nonprofit organization that won the 2019 Prize in the Food category for its innovative and affordable fortification machine that adds micronutrients scientifically proven to improve health to flour. As a result of winning the Prize, Sanku has enabled 200 millers across Tanzania to fortify their flour with lifesaving nutrients. These millers are now feeding close to one million people every day.

Funding awarded to organizations working in the sustainable energy sector has helped extend clean energy access to 54 million homes, many of which previously had no access to domestic power sources. 2018 Prize winner Sunna Design, an SME based in France, won the Prize for its smart solar street lighting, which is particularly adapted for rural areas in developing countries. With the Prize fund, Sunna Design executed several high-impact projects in Cameroon and Gabon in West Africa, including installing autonomous solar street lights in two villages and the Gado refugee camp, which is home to 25,000 people.

Through the projects it supports, the Prize has also facilitated access to affordable healthcare for more than 728,000 people. US-based We Care Solar, which won the Prize in the Health category in 2019, is a nonprofit organization that distributes ‘Solar Suitcases’ – robust, waterproof and easy-to-use solar electric systems that provide health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication and medical devices – in remote healthcare facilities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We Care Solar used the Prize fund to expand its programs to over 160 health facilities, directly serving more than 64,000 mothers and newborn babies each year.

Now, an additional US $600,000 has been allocated to the Prize fund, specifically for the recipient of the Climate Action category award.

The launch of the Climate Action category coincides with the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, a national initiative that aims to accelerate sustainable development both within its borders and beyond. It also comes ahead of the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which will be hosted in the UAE later this year.

The Climate Action category will provide a platform for organizations from all around the world to showcase their efforts towards mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the changing climate, and building more climate resilient communities. Through this category, the Zayed Sustainability Prize aims to inspire and empower more people to take action on climate change and contribute to building a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Recognizing the critical need to accelerate the development and deployment of solutions aimed at protecting our planet’s natural resources, the Climate Action category will build on the Prize’s 15-year track record of empowering sustainable solutions that benefit people and planet.

As we look to the future, we must remember that the next seven years are critical. The United Nations has declared this the ‘decade of action,’ and we must make significant progress to safeguard the planet’s future. Entities like the Zayed Sustainability Prize are crucial for pushing the boundaries of sustainable innovation to help deliver practical solutions that address the most pressing environmental and social challenges facing us today.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize is calling for nominations of SMEs and NPOs for the Climate Action category, and for submissions to all other categories – Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools – from now until 23 May 2023. The winners will be announced at the Zayed Sustainability Prize Awards Ceremony later this year. To learn more about the Zayed Sustainability Prize and to apply or submit your nomination, please visit:


This article was supported by the Zayed Sustainability Prize.

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