The Zayed Sustainability Prize was launched in 2008 to reward and recognise innovative humanitarian projects. Established in honour of the Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the prize scheme has so far celebrated 106 winners, including medium-sized enterprises, nonprofit organisations and global high schools, and helped more than 378 million people in 151 countries.
Split into six categories – health, food, energy, water, climate action and high schools – the winners will be announced in an awards ceremony that will take place on Friday, during the COP28 climate conference.
With $3.6 million in prize money up for grabs, this year’s competition is incredibly tough, featuring 33 inspiring finalists from as far as Europe, Asia and North America. Meet three of the visionary nominees for the prize.
Health – The ChildLife Foundation
The ChildLife Foundation is one of the largest non-profit organisations in Pakistan. Today, it manages 12 state-of-the-art children’s emergency rooms, and 118 telemedicine centres in the most deprived areas of the country. Since it was founded in 2010, it has delivered vital care to more than 5.6 million children.
Dr Ahson Rabbani, chief executive officer of the ChildLife Foundation, explained that the group treats some of Pakistan’s poorest and sickest children.
“Studies show that if you improve the standard of hospital emergency rooms, you can reduce child mortality rates by half. So, we have created a vast network of hospitals that is big enough to treat around 1.5 million children per year. By harnessing the latest innovations in telemedicines, we maintain a very high survival rate,” he said.
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“The UN estimates that about 5 million children below the age of five die every year, and we are supporting their goal of reducing this figure to zero by 2030. To be a finalist for the Zayed Sustainability Prize has boosted the morale of our team hugely. It is an enormous honour.”
Climate Action – CarbonCure
Based in Canada, CarbonCure specialises in carbon removal technologies that make it possible to create concrete from carbon dioxide. Over the past year, it has removed 126,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
Robert Niven, CEO and founder of CarbonCure, said that he wanted to open people’s minds to a different and more environment-friendly way of operating.
“We want to lower the carbon footprint of the construction industry and change mindsets,” he added.
“CarbonCure is currently being used all around the world in 35 different countries, including in the UAE. Being recognised by an award as distinguished as the Zayed Sustainability Prize really elevates our visibility and credibility. We think we have huge potential to expand within the Gulf region, and we are confident that this achievement will open up a lot of doors for us.”
Food – Regen Organics
Kenyan organisation Regen Organics uses ingenious green technologies to convert organic waste into sustainable fertilisers, and insect protein for pet and animal feed.
“We have created smart ways to manage organic waste streams and convert them into valuable regenerative agricultural inputs,” said co-founder David Auerbach.
“It can be difficult to encourage the agriculture industry to adopt sustainable solutions. But, by working closely with farmers, we are helping them to realise the many benefits of working with organic fertiliser.”
Having previously visited the region for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Auerbach notes that attending COP28 will provide valuable opportunities to build partnerships, connections and generally raise awareness about the importance of building a circular economy.
“Being nominated for the Zayed Sustainability Prize provides us with a platform to talk all about the important work that’s being done in emerging markets to promote food security. This recognition means so much to us, and it has given all our team back in Kenya a nice spring in their steps,” he concluded.
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