Attending the 2023 Ashden Awards
On Tuesday 24 November, Principal consultant David Leipziger and Comms specialist Jack Cribb headed to the Royal Geographical Society to attend the Ashden Awards – an evening celebrating pioneering trailblazers who are setting the example for climate game-changers the world over. It was brilliant to return to the Awards and we were excited to hear from this year’s winners.
As a team, we’re always looking for learning opportunities taken from the real-world applications of climate innovation, where you can easily explore the relationship between problems, solutions, and implementations. Each organisation represented by the winners at Ashden is the perfect example of this – where people have witnessed a climate, environmental, or social issue, and devised a fit-for-purpose, scalable solution that tackles that issue.
As climate and development professionals, we find practical solutions that don’t simply solve the problem, but go further in driving education and equality for communities, to be truly inspiring.
What are the Ashden Awards?
The Ashden Awards are organised and delivered by Ashden, an organisation that supports climate innovation in the UK and the Global South. The Awards themselves provide publicity, grants, and new connections to innovative climate solutions that have been established to help local communities in their target areas.
Winners at Ashden are decided by a large panel of independent experts, which include a wide variety of stakeholders from different sectors – such as academics, business leaders, climate communicators, and those living with climate challenges.
‘The Ashden Awards bring publicity, grants and connections to outstanding climate solutions. Whether powering up off-grid communities, greening cities, or regenerating the natural world, our winners work to build a fairer and better zero carbon future.’
The natures of these solutions represents a rich variety of climate and sustainability innovation, with both mitigation and adaptation measures being implemented. For example, the Ashden Awards may feature energy solutions for off-grid communities, climate resilience projects in urban landscapes, or the promotion of gender equality in developing countries. The possibilities are endless.
The Awards also represent a great opportunity for stakeholders working in climate and sustainability to network, connect, and potentially collaborate, as it draws hundreds of invested, passionate characters from many different organisations and industries.
This year’s winners
So who were the nine winners?
Award for Natural Climate Solutions – CERAF-Nord
CERAF-Nord is helping restore land around protected areas in Northern Cameroon. Through education, upskilling, and tackling gender inequality and inter-community tension, CERAF-Nord is helping Cameroonian communities give back to their native woodland savannah ecosystems.
Award for Future Farmers – FarmED
FarmED, situated in the sunny Cotswolds, is a not-for-profit organisation that is helping to build sustainable farming and food systems. Through learning and training, FarmED is educating both new and established farmers on best practices that help tackle problems such as soil erosion and biodiversity loss.
Award for Local Nature Recoverers – Enfield Council and Thames21
Some areas in London are at risk of severe flooding due to rising water levels, unpredictable weather, and extreme rain. The partnership between Enfield Council and environmental charity Thames21 has been combatting this, by working to re-establish the ecosystems and natural flood defences in London-based waterways. They help to restore rivers and create new woods and wetlands.
Award for Energy Innovation – Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT)
In the UK, there’s a very real issue of fuel poverty, which is exacerbated as the cold winter months set in. HACT is taking action to tackle this, through the development of a new type of carbon credit, which funds energy efficiency upgrades in social housing. At the same time, HACT is also creating green jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Award for Powering Futures in Clean Energy – BuraSolutions Academy
Nigeria’s solar sector is growing, and BuraSolutions is helping to grow it by offering hands-on learning for trainees, who go on to ease the lack of access to electricity that is experienced by 40% of Nigeria’s people.
Award for Powering Refugees and Displaced People – USAFI Green Energy
Based in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee camp, USAFI Green Energy helps develop a new kind of locally-made cooking stove to reduce smoke from open cooking stoves, leading to better quality air for refugees, which ultimately saves lives.
Award for Powering Agriculture – Collective for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI)
CInI is a non-profit that supports women in the Central Indian Tribal Belt. It does this by using clean energy technology to boost agricultural yield for women-led producer groups, who can then sell their products collectively for larger profits.
Award for Integrated Energy Africa – Power for All
Small towns and villages in Africa truly struggle with energy access. In one village, Kiwumu in Uganda, a new approach has been led by Power for All. This approach unlocks low-cost capital for developing energy infrastructure and brings together key stakeholders that may otherwise have been non-collaborative.
Award for Outstanding Achievement – Husk Power Systems
Husk Power Systems has a longstanding history of providing innovative power solutions to communities in need. In 2011, it brought clean energy to 180,000 rice farmers in India. Now, it’s providing solar mini-grids to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, aiming to provide power to 7.7 million people over the next five years.
The 2023 Awards Ceremony
The 2023 award ceremony was presented by Solitaire Townshend, co-founder of Futerra, and featured short documentary-style videos of each award winner’s project. There was a stirring speech by Ashden’s CEO, Ashok Sinha, regarding the potential of current climate innovations and policy, and a conversation with the climate activist, Tori Tsui, about activism and the right approach to collaboration.
Looking back: The Ashden Awards in 2019
This isn’t the first time we’ve attended the Ashden Awards. If you’re curious about our previous attendance, the winners, and the learnings, read this article by Ella Jollands.
Why are awards like these important?
Often, it is only the large climate innovations that receive widespread attention. Awards such as the ones given by Ashden provide a platform for greater awareness of the small, ground-level work that is just as important.
The success of the climate movement as a whole, whether you’re looking at it or contributing to it from the perspective of an activist or an industry leader, hinges upon how effectively we can communicate and collaborate. Events such as the Ashden Awards bring together people who may have never met otherwise, providing a distinct chance for mutual learning, growth, and opportunity.
Did you attend the Ashden Awards? What project interested you the most? Let us know in the comments section below.
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