Inaugural Seed Awards Honor Sustainable Development Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK, New York, April 22, 2005 (ENS) - The first biennial Seed Initiative awards to Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (Seed) were made in New York on Wednesday during the 13th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The new sustainable development awards are the outcome of an international competition to find the most promising new locally-driven, entrepreneurial partnerships.

The Initiative is a partnership between IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), along with the Global Public Policy Institute, and Partnerships Central. It is supported by the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, by the UN Global Compact, and by the company Swiss Re.

An environmentally friendly method of growing rice, and a project to cultivate a berry found high in the Himalayas are among the winners. They are joined by a community based marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, an innovative water supply scheme in Bolivia, and a power plant in Nigeria that turns cattle waste into energy.

The winners were selected from more than 260 entries from 66 countries, representing 1,200 organizations. They were chosen for their potential to advance sustainable development in their communities and contribute to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. All winning projects have the potential to be replicated in similar areas around the globe, helping to address a multitude of issues in the developing world.


Nitin Desai served as chair of the international jury that chose the inaugural Seed Award winners. (Photo courtesy UN)
“Sustainability as a process requires responsibility - for the impact of our actions on others and on nature - partnership and innovation," said Nitin Desai, chair of the international jury that selected the winners. The former Secretary General to the World Summit on Sustainable Development and a former UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, Desai congratulated the Seed Award winners and also the other finalists. "This is the real promise of the partnerships that we endorsed at the Johannesburg Summit,” he said.

German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said, “Looking back at the first steps of the Seed Initiative, we were eager to see whether our idea of creating an award for sustainable development partnerships would stand the test of reality. But after the official launch during the World Economic and the World Social Forum at the beginning of last year and the inaugural call for submissions, the feedback was so overwhelming, and the quality of submissions so high that we all knew we were on to something important."

Paula Dobriansky, U.S. under secretary of state for global affairs, said, "Partnerships, such as Seed, are vital to helping local communities improve the quality of their citizens' lives and can make an important contribution to our efforts to achieve development goals. The five winners we recognize tonight exemplify the fresh new approach to sustainable development launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Step by step, public-private partnerships such as these are having tangible results as we work globally to alleviate poverty.”

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said, “The time for talking is over. The time for action is now. If we are to deliver sustainable development, achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and overcome poverty we need partnerships. Partnerships between people, NGOs, private businesses, local authorities, governments and the United Nations. UNEP’s motto is environment for development. These Seed winners are living proof of what can be done if we harness the most powerful assets we have – human creativity, ingenuity and imagination."

Achim Steiner, director general of the IUCN, said, “In the coming years, Seed will work closely with the winners – to support the partnerships, learn from their experiences and spread the results of that learning to help multiply these practical models. Through our collective networks, we will nuture this inaugural class of award winners and future entrepreneurs in their efforts to find innovative solutions to local challenges.”

The first Seed Award winners are: