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March 5, 2021
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Ashden seeks to award innovators tackling global climate challenges

Ashden has announced the opening of the 2021 Ashden Awards with categories promoting innovation in energy access, natural climate solutions and sustainable cooling for low-income neighbourhoods.

The prestigious annual awards highlight outstanding climate innovations, boosting bright ideas that can be scaled up or replicated around the world.

Award categories relevant to African applicants include the Ashden Award for Energy Access Innovation, the Ashden Award for Humanitarian Energy, and the Ashden Award for Cooling in Informal Settlements, and the Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions which will highlight reforestation projects in the Congo basin specifically.

“This year we are awarding solutions taking on the biggest international climate challenges – from defending our rainforests to helping people survive deadly heatwaves. This includes the ongoing battle to connect everyone with clean and affordable energy, including the world’s 80 million refugees and displaced people,” said Harriet Lamb, CEO Ashden.

Last year Ashden Award 2020 Winners in Africa included the Togolese Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency, AT2ER (a government body with the task of ensuring that all of Togo has access to electricity), and runners up included Econsult architects in Egypt, New Energy Nexus Uganda whose ‘last mile distributers’ ensure clean energy products reach rural areas in Uganda, and CAMGEW -a women-led bee farming and reforestation project in Cameroon.

This year, Ashden hopes to receive a similarly impressive set of applications from innovators in Africa working with communities to reduce climate impacts.

Lamb has said the awards will focus on innovation supporting those marginalised or at risk of being left behind, from indigenous peoples to families living without electricity.

“Coronavirus has put the progress of many climate pioneers in danger – but they have responded by digging deep to help their communities at this difficult time. Now more than ever, we must celebrate these innovators and back their work building a cleaner, fairer future for all,” Lamb added.

Award nominations are open now and close on March 3.

Winners will be announced in September, as well as a cash grant of up to Kshs. 3 million (£20,000).

Winning organizations will also receive development support, networking opportunities, and PR support (including a broadcast-quality film about their work).

Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions will highlight initiatives in the Congo Basin (plus the Amazon and South East Asian rainforest) making forest communities more resilient, through improved livelihoods, inclusive business models, or improved governance and land rights. It will also spotlight innovation in grassroots resistance, cultural preservation, and support for young leaders.

Ashden Award for Energy Access Innovation award will uncover innovation bringing clean, affordable energy to refugees and displaced people around the world.

It is estimated that 770 million people still go without access to electricity, even though in sub-Saharan Africa the number of people with access to electricity is set to fall in 2020.

About 80% of people living in refugee camps are thought to have minimal access to energy for cooking and heating, and about 90% have no access to electricity.

Even limited access to energy comes at an enormous cost – in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, households spend an estimated 24% of their income on energy – compared to a UK household spend of just 4%.

This award will also uncover innovation bringing clean, affordable energy to refugees and displaced people around the world.

In particular, it will focus on innovative finance and delivery models for bringing clean energy to humanitarian settings. Initiatives should also give displaced people – and host communities – the chance to plan and run clean energy programmes.

Ashden Award for Cooling in Informal Settlements on the other hand will spotlight the best initiatives alleviating heat stress, and help make solutions accessible and affordable to those in greatest need.

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