The Ashden Awards 2020 rewarded 11 organisations across the globe who have developed proven climate solutions in their area.
From rising temperatures to ocean acidification, the climate crisis is already having a major impact on people’s lives across the globe. Business as usual is no longer an option when it comes to tackling what has been described by the United Nations as “the defining crisis of our time”, and innovators are rising up to come up with climate solutions.
The British organisation Ashden is all about supporting these innovators and helping accelerate such transformative climate solutions. The non-profit identifies “the most exciting climate action around the world” and rewards them annually at the Ashden Awards Ceremony. The organisation offers a tailored package to each of their winners, providing them with mentors and offering them technical, financial and business guidance.
This year’s award ceremony took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic and premiered on YouTube on 2 July. Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said: “There’s growing momentum for a green recovery from coronavirus, one that escapes the failures of the past and propels us toward a low-carbon future. This new future is within our reach, as long as we back radical climate solutions.”
“This year Ashden has uncovered outstanding pioneers worldwide. Our award winners are bringing clean energy to the world’s poorest people and creating sustainable buildings and transport. They are protecting our rainforests and tackling the impact of deadly heatwaves.”
The 2020 winners are a diverse crowd, both in terms of geographical location and the type of climate solutions they work on. The awarded initiatives came from India, Bangladesh, Togo, the UK, Brazil, Yemen and Nepal. India led the way by winning three awards – one for city cooling and two for the use of solar technology to support female smallholder farmers.
The ceremony which introduced each winner through a series of short videos showcased an impressive range of climate solutions – from a low carbon transport system to a cooling technique that can protect the vulnerable against deadly heatwaves. All the initiatives are highly replicable and open up a world of possibilities when it comes to tackling the effects of the climate crisis.
Ashden’s CEO said in a statement: “The decisions of the next 12 months will be crucial to tackling the climate crisis. Climate solutions abound to help us build back better – as long as investors, funders and politicians throw their weight and their funds behind them. They must pour finance and political will into work that is already having a huge impact. As the world rebuilds in the wake of coronavirus, we must put justice at the heart of our efforts as well as a real sense of urgency.”
The full list of winners includes:
- Cool Cities Award – The National Resources Defence Council (India): Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan protects the vulnerable against extreme temperatures.
- Energy and Livelihoods Awards – S4S Technologies (India): Solar dryers that preserve crops, stop wastage and provide livelihoods.
- International Mobility Award – ITDP and the Greater Chennai Corporation (India): Creating cleaner air in Chennai city through ‘active travel’ such as walking and cycling.
- Natural Climate Solutions Award – Xingu Seed Network Co-operative (Brazil): Native seeding method to accelerate reforestation of the Amazon.
- Humanitarian Energy Award – United Nations Development Programme (Yemen): Providing new livelihoods through access to solar energy.
- Financial Innovation for Energy Access Award – Solshare (Bangladesh): Peer-to-peer solar microgrids trade surplus energy in off-grid communities.
- System Innovation for Energy Access Award – The Togolese Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Agency (AT2ER) (Togo): Transforming the system of energy access at scale.
- Energy Innovation (UK) Award – Guru Systems: Reducing inefficiencies of heat networks in multiple housing residencies makes massive carbon and cost savings.
- Clean Air in UK Towns and Cities Award – e-cargobikes.com: An electric cargo bike delivery business.
- Sustainable Built Environment (UK) Award – Passivhaus Homes: Simple, low cost, low carbon homes.
- Sustainable Built Environment Award (International) – Build Up Nepal: Helping construction entrepreneurs (including many women) build earthquake-resistant houses.
Julia Migné is a multimedia journalist and wildlife photographer specialising in environmental issues and odd hobbies. She has written for Africa Geographic and BBC Wildlife among others. An endless traveller, she swears that she would visit one country for each letter of the alphabet.