London, May 31, 2012: Winners of the world’s leading green energy prize were announced on Wednesday, May 30 nigt at a prestigious ceremony at the London-based Royal Geographical Society, addressed by Dr Kandeh Yumkella, director general of UNIDO and Chair of UN-Energy, a global crusader for increasing access to energy for the poor.
The five winners have been awarded a total of £120,000 to help them scale up their work. They are: a community-owned micro-hydro programme in Indonesia (IBEKA); a micro-hydro programme in remote Afghanistan (GIZ/INTEGRATION), a microfinance provider in rural India that helps poor people invest in renewable energy (Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project), an energy-saving water filter in Cambodia (iDE/Hydrologic) and an affordable solar power provider (Barefoot Power) that’s lighting up lives in East Africa.
This year’s overall Gold Award winner is South India-based is the Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP), which impressed the judges for demonstrating the key role a microfinance organization can play in meeting the poor’s energy needs.
The Ashden judges said: “SKDRDP is fantastic example of how ethically managed microfinance can deliver sustainable energy to the poor, demonstrating that providing consumer loans for energy makes sound social, environmental and economic sense. We were bowled over by the scale SKDRDP has achieved so far, along with the responsibility it takes for lending to the poor, nurturing users to take out effective loans. SKDRDP has huge potential to expand its work even further, and to inspire many others to follow its lead.”
In his keynote speech, Dr Kandeh Yumkella urged governments around the world to increase their support for clean energy pioneers: “The Ashden 2012 winners are exposing the myth that poor countries cannot stimulate growth without degrading the environment. They are demonstrating that sustainable energy stimulates green growth and new jobs, lifts people out of poverty, improves health and opens up new educational opportunities.
“The decisions that will be taken at Rio in June will carry consequences for generations to come. Governments around the world must act urgently to agree the right policies and investment incentives that nurture these and other sustainable energy champions, before it’s too late.”
Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder-director of Ashden said: “In this uncertain world our winners offer a beacon of hope, showing that access to sustainable energy offers a clear route out of poverty for millions of people around the world. We’re committed to sharing the lessons they have learned so they can be replicated far and wide.”