24. 05. 2012

Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy in 2012

It’s a very frustrating time in the world of sustainability.  We know that business-as-usual just can’t deliver for very much longer.  And we more or less know where we want to get to in terms of a low-carbon genuinely sustainable world.  But we’re still forlornly fumbling around when it comes to getting on with the journey!

Happily, there are pioneers out there showing the way and multiplying all the time, and there’s an amazing array of Award Schemes, operating all around the world, showcasing the work of those pioneers.  I just want to focus on three of them for now.

First up, for today, the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy (www.ashden.org).  And here I have to declare a direct interest, as I’ve been a Trustee of the Awards since 2004.  Indeed, I’ve blogged before about the annual Awards Ceremony where grown and even cynical men and women have been known to shed the odd tear when confronted with the personal stories of some of the Awards winners.

Twelve years on, there’s now an astonishing list of past winners – again, from all round the world.  Not all of them have gone on to get bigger and grow faster, in what are often nightmarishly complex political and economic situations.  But enough have to demonstrate the benefits of an awards scheme that focuses almost entirely on small-scale and often grassroots organisations, and then (unlike many other award schemes!) provides a lot of support and nurturing after that brief moment of glory at the awards ceremony itself.   For instance, an Indian solar company called Selco has more than doubled its business since it won an Award in 2005.

Wonderful stuff – but it’s impossible not to feel pretty frustrated at the same time!  So many of the technologies and initiatives being celebrated by Ashden could so easily have been taken to scale at any time over the last 10 years, bringing benefits to tens of millions of people rather than hundreds of thousands.  Every year, the Ashden team organises a seminar for policy- makers, as well as the Awards Ceremony itself, and every year I find myself sorely tempted to stand up and berate the whole lot of them for such chronic policy failure!  

Anyway, the Ashden Awards Ceremony is next week (30 May), so I’ll be following up on this blog after that.

(Next week, two other awards schemes: the Right Livelihood Awards and the Goldman Prize.)

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25. 05. 2012
Simon Brammer

And we still have places for the Ashden Conference on May 29. Visit ashden.org for details.

25. 05. 2012
Julia Hawkins

Looking forward to seeing you next week Jonathan - and as a quick heads-up for people, we'll be webcasting the actual ceremony for the first time ever on green.tv from 7pm on Wednesday 30 May. It's sure to be an emotional night!

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