Monday, April 5, 2010

Wood stove makers win prestigious international award

2009-10 Sasakawa Prize winners bring light and heat to communities in Latin America, Africa and India

Bali (Indonesia), 23 February 2010 - Two projects bringing green stoves and clean lighting to remote communities in Latin America, East Africa and India are the laureates of the 2009-10 UNEP Sasakawa Prize, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

This year's winners are Nuru Design, a company bringing rechargeable lights to villages in Rwanda, Kenya and India; and Trees, Water and People (TWP), an organization that collaborates with local NGOs to distribute fuel-efficient cook stoves to communities in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti.

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, is given out each year to sustainable and replicable grassroots projects around the planet. The winners will receive their prestigious Prize at an Award Ceremony in Bali attended by dozens of Environment Ministers during the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council.

In a year that saw global leaders meet in Copenhagen for the crucial climate conference, the 2009 theme for the Prize is 'Green Solutions to Combat Climate Change'. The winners, who were selected by a panel of four people including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and UN Messenger of Peace Wangari Maathai, will receive $100,000 each in order to expand and develop their grassroots projects.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General who chaired the Jury Panel, said: "Combating climate change is not just up to governments: it starts at the grassroots level, as communities tap into the power of renewables and sustainable technologies. Through pioneering green ovens and sustainable lighting, Nuru Design and Trees, Water and People are changing the lives of thousands of schoolchildren, housewives and villagers across Latin America, Africa and India. This is the Green Economy of tomorrow, in action today."

The two projects are both helping to improve daily lives in far-flung, non-electrified villages while helping to fight climate change.

Nuru Design has already converted thousands of households to rechargeable lights, and aims to prevent the emission of around 40,000 tonnes of CO2 from kerosene lighting in 2010.

And through fuel-efficient cooking stoves that burn 50 to 70 per cent less wood, TWP is helping households save money and preventing nearly 250,000 tonnes of hazardous emissions.

The Winners

Trees, Water and People

Nearly half the world's 6.8 billion people rely on smoky open fires to cook their daily meals. Trees, Water & People (TWP) , a non-profit organization, collaborates with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti to distribute fuel-efficient cook stoves that burn 50 to 70 per cent less wood and remove toxic smoke from homes. Other projects include community tree nurseries, reforestation, protecting watersheds and the promotion of renewable energy.

To date, TWP has coordinated the building of 35,000 stoves throughout Central America and Haiti, benefitting more than 175,000 people. The ecostoves burn 70 per cent less wood than traditional ovens, saving families $1 to $5 per day.

They also decrease harmful carbon emissions by 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent per year per stove for domestic users and 3.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year for commercial users, like tortilla makers.

To supplement the fuel-efficient stoves project, TWP has helped villages create 16 community-run tree nurseries that sequester carbon and counter the effects of deforestation. To date, three million trees have been planted throughout Latin America.

TWP will use the Prize money to support and expand the fuel-efficient stove projects and community tree nurseries throughout Central America and the Caribbean, purchasing equipment and materials necessary for increased stove production, as well as vehicles for transportation and delivery.

In 1998, Stuart Conway co-founded Trees, Water & People (TWP), a Colorado-based nonprofit committed to improving people's lives by helping communities protect, conserve and manage the natural resources.

After graduating from Colorado State University with a Bachelor's degree in Forest Management, Stuart Conway served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala for three years, where he introduced reforestation, agroforestry, soil conservation, and stove building techniques into nearby villages. Upon returning to the States, Stuart received his Master's degree in International Development and Agroforestry from Cornell University. He then served as Director for the New Forests Project at the International Center in Washington D.C., where he guided the program to plant over 2 million trees annually, establish agroforestry training centers in Guatemala and El Salvador, and initiated community reforestation projects throughout Central America.

In 2005, Prince Charles presented Stuart with the prestigious Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy, for TWP's fuel-efficient stove project in Honduras. Stuart and TWP were awarded the 2008 US$1 million Rio Tinto Prize for Sustainability.

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