Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, today presented nine winners with the Zayed Future Energy Prize during the eighth awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi. In attendance were His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and seven heads of state.

Former Prime Minister of Norway Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland received the Lifetime Achievement award for her long-term and steadfast commitment to sustainability and sustainable development. Today, Dr. Brundtland is the Vice Chair of the UN Foundation and Deputy Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights.

The Large Corporation category prize was awarded to Chinese electric vehicles manufacturer BYD. Tanzanian energy access business Off.Grid.Electric was the winner in the SME category, while Indonesian non-profit organisation Kopernik was announced as the winner in the NPO category. Joining them were five schools spanning five regions of the globe, whom were the winners in the Global High Schools category.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed underlined that the UAE will continue to be a leader in driving sustainable innovations across the globe: “At this critical time in the global dialogue around sustainability and clean energy, the UAE has shown farsighted leadership in ensuring innovation plays a central role in addressing the world’s common concerns. Because of this, Abu Dhabi is a focal point for action that carries us along the path of sustainable development. This is a journey that we began under the farsighted vision of our founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose legacy defines the UAE’s past and will continue to define its future.”

His Highness continued: “Through the Zayed Future Energy Prize, we are recognising the pioneers that dare to push the boundaries of what is achievable through clean energy innovation. These pioneers are the individuals and organisations at the forefront of the transition to a more secure and sustainable world.”

For the latest edition of the prize, a record 1,437 entries were received from 97 countries. The US$4 million prize, that empowers and rewards innovators in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, has now recognised 48 pioneers since its inception in 2008. In the 8 years since, the prize has seen unprecedented growth and a total of 8,502 entries submitted.

His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of the Republic of Iceland and Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, said: “This has been another outstanding year for the Zayed Future Energy Prize. The record number of submissions is a testament to the leadership shown by the UAE in this field. This is made all the more impressive because of the sheer length and breadth of those that apply to be part of this global community. Those whose innovations are shaping their community today right through to those young people who are the next generation of leaders, innovators, and individuals willing to make a difference to the world around them.”

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Director General of the Zayed Future Energy Prize: “The prize was established in recognition of the farsighted and persistent belief of our late founding father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, that sustainability should underpin the future development of the nation. Today, this principle forms the foundation of the prizes influence across the globe.”

From ensuring access to modern energy in rural African villages to empowering Bangladeshi women with careers as solar technicians, more than 202 million people around the world have experienced the sustainable actions of the Zayed Future Energy Prize winners. Through progressive achievements recognised by the awards, water security is now a reality for millions of families across Bangladesh, India, Ghana and the Philippines, Renewable energy sources supply electricity to a population the size of Italy and enough carbon emissions have been avoided to off-set the price of global deforestation for a year.

Dr Al Jaber, highlighted how the prize is a beacon for those innovating in sustainability: “The prize is empowering ideas and knowledge-exchange that are on the frontline of ushering in a more sustainable future. It is only through the ability to recognise and foster these ideas that we are able to support those who are truly re-shaping communities across the globe. It is this that ensures the UAE is playing a predominant role in delivering what are fundamental human rights for all – the right to water, energy and a sustainable future.”

Today the prize recognises pioneers of renewable energy and sustainability across five categories: Large Corporation, SME, NPO, Lifetime Achievement and the most recent addition, Global High Schools. Each year, the prize evaluates entries in each category based on their impact, innovation, leadership and long-term vision. It is at the end of this stringent evaluation process that the esteemed members of the Jury decide upon the winners. An increasingly difficult challenge due to the continuing rise in calibre of entries.

In 2012, the Global High Schools category was launched as part of the UAE leadership’s commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative and educating future generations about sustainability. Now in its fourth year, the prize has empowered 19 schools to incorporate renewable energy and sustainability into their schools and curricula.

The five winners in the Global High Schools category are ‘SOS HG Sheikh Secondary School’ in Somalia, Africa; ‘Korea Science Academy of KAIST’ from South Korea, Asia; Institución Educativa Gabriel Plazas from Colombia, representing the Americas region; Germany’s ‘Schuelerforschungszentrum Suedwuerttemberg’ in Europe and ‘Cashmere High School,’ New Zealand for the Oceania region.