United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP Sasakawa prize open: US $200,000 for innovative green project


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and The Nippon Foundation today officially launched the 2011 UNEP Sasakawa Prize to find the most innovative environmental project in the developing world - with a cash prize of US$ 200,000 awaiting the winner.

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize is awarded every year to a grassroots organisation judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the protection and management of the environment, and to social development. The theme for this year's prize is 'Forests for People, Forests for Green Growth' in support of the United Nations International Year of Forests in 2011.

Of particular interest to this year's jury will be projects that:

  • Promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests
  • Contribute to a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions caused by deforestation or forest degradation
  • Maintain forest ecosystems to improve resilience to climate change
  • Support development among forest-dependent communities
  • Conserve biodiversity and help protect ecosystems in forests

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize is designed to nurture innovation and research in green solutions to environmental challenges by offering financial support to the winner. The jury is especially interested in sustainable projects that can be scaled up or replicated elsewhere, thus helping to inspire others to take a greater interest in protecting our environment and to increase its scope of beneficiary, especially in the under-served rural communities.

By helping these entrepreneurs scale-up their activities, the prize is able to boost local economies and help tackle poverty and marginalization, while promoting the sustainable use of resources and ecosystems.

The winner of the 2011 UNEP Sasakawa Prize will receive the prestigious award at a special ceremony to be held at the meeting of the UNEP Governing Council from 21 - 25 February 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya.

First awarded in 1984, the UNEP Sasakawa Prize has helped nurture a wide range of grassroots environmental initiatives across the world, spurring fledgling projects onto great success.

One of the recipients of last year's Prize was Nuru Design; a project that brings innovative lighting solutions to rural communities in Rwanda, Kenya and India. By replacing kerosene and firewood lamps with solar-powered lights, Nuru Design not only helps reduce the high levels of CO2 produced by traditional lamps, but also tackled the health and literacy problems caused by a lack of access to affordable lighting. Thanks to Nuru Design's efforts, over 3,000 households in Rwanda are switching from kerosene to Nuru lights every month.

It is this kind of innovative, inspirational project that the UNEP Sasakawa judges hope to reward in 2011.

Nominations will be accepted until 30 September 2010 via the UNEP Sasakawa Prize website: www.unep.org/sasakawa

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