by Sangeeta Haindl — Forward thinking organisations championing solar energy in India, East Africa and beyond; businesses improving the health of citizens through sustainable buildings and access to clean water in China and Indonesia; and a not-for-profit connecting communities with vital services—all are winners of the prestigious 2016 Ashden International Awards. The winners were presented with their award at a special event hosted by BBC journalist Mishal Husain at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 9 June. The Ashden Awards are a globally recognised measure of excellence in the field of sustainable energy, where each winner receives up to £30,000 prize money as well as tailored support to scale up their work.
Today 1.3 billion people lack access to modern forms of electricity. While some three billion—more than a third of the world’s population—cook on smoky, inefficient stoves and fires, causing dangerous indoor air pollution, which causes 4.3 million premature deaths every year. That's more than double the number of people who die from malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. Sustainable energy is interconnected with so many other huge issues in the developing world such as access to clean water, livelihoods, women’s empowerment and access to financing to be able to start a business. The Ashden Awards finds ‘winners’ who are transforming lives with their game-changing work.
For example, Bridges to Prosperity, one of this year’s Award winners, not only builds bridges but also teaches communities how to build and maintain these connections to healthcare, education and employment. Overall, the organisation has completed 180 bridges in the past 14 years, serving more than 800,000 users around the world. This initiative wins the Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel.
Frontier Markets offers a unique distribution model to provide high quality solar lamps and other solar systems to remote villages in India, using a network of trained women called Solar Sahelis. It has sold over 100,000 clean energy products in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh and wins the Ashden Award for Clean Energy for Women and Girls, supported by U.K. aid. The Shanghai Landsea Planning & Architectural Design Co. Ltd is a leading practitioner of green buildings in China and wins an Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by Grosvenor. It has more than 40 projects totaling 2.5 million m2, including sustainable residential property for over 25,000 customers.
The above are just a glimpse of the outstanding 2016 Ashden International Awards winners. Since these Awards began in 2001, overall these winners have transformed the lives of more than 47 million people in the U.K. and in developing countries. They show how, with ingenuity and determination, even the toughest challenges can be overcome, where the impact of their work can be seen in enhanced educational standards, better health and improved livelihoods for the poor, as well as cleaner, more profitable businesses. They are creating a better future for everyone.
Photo Credit: Ashden International Awards