There are drones that have protected hundreds of thousands of people from epidemic diseases in the third world. There are sustainable energy technologies that have enabled development and economic growth, as well as food and water advancements that have empowered rural communities and given them a fresh lease on life.
And then there’s the many young people across the planet that have been inspired to become part of the next generation of sustainability leaders.
All of these people have been impacted by the powerful solutions implemented by the winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize — and there are many more deserving mentions in addition to the ones listed above.
The Prize, an evolution of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, is the United Arab Emirates’ pioneering global award in sustainability and a tribute to the legacy of the late founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Established in 2008, this annual award recognizes and rewards the achievements of those who are driving impactful, innovative and inspiring sustainability solutions across five distinct categories: Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize, which announces its winners during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, has recognized 96 winners over the past 14 years, with 370 million lives impacted, and has a global reach of 151 countries (and counting). Some 53 million homes have been powered by renewable energy, more than 11 million more people in the world can now access clean and affordable drinking water, while 2.3 million people have access to nutritious food. In addition, more than 442,000 have received safe maternal care.
But the prize is far more than number-driven. It is a very human instrument of progress and achievement, informed by real-life stories and voices who care and who deeply desire the world that they live in to be a better place.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize is also far more than prizes and recognition — indeed, one of the notable attributes about most winners is their humility. These are people who cherish the advancement of people and planet rather than crave adulation of self.
To continue the work of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, the “Voices of Sustainability” series was launched in March 2021 as a dedicated space where the world’s sustainability thought leaders meet to address the most pressing issues on the global sustainable development agenda. The online discussion series has been reflective of the momentum around sustainability efforts in the pandemic recovery era, and a hugely popular, thought-provoking mechanism of continuing the global conversation for a sustainable future.
From pioneering teachers in the most isolated parts of the world to large corporations genuinely making a difference, the Zayed Sustainability Prize winners — innovators and visionaries, all — are being recognized for pioneering efforts and technologies that can and do change our world. And that’s certainly something well worth celebrating.
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place in-person and online between Jan. 15-19, 2022. To learn more about the week, visit www.adsw.ae.