New global award initiative launched in Mumbai and Davos
In India, a network of women slum dwellers is collaborating with UK engineers and a French water company to improve water delivery in their communities.
In Ecuador, a consortium of European companies is working with the government and coffee farmers to ensure pesticides don't contaminate water supplies. In South Africa, a small business owner is working with women's cooperatives and the government to test market solar technologies in rural areas.
Such stories are the type of innovative “partnerships” that will be the focus of a new global award initiative, the SEED Awards, launched today at the World Social Forum in Mumbai and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The SEED Awards aim to reward people and organizations that are working together in partnership, the innovators in our world that are forging new strategies for the sustainable use of our natural resources.
“We are not trying to set-up an international standard for ideal partnerships,” said Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is one of the founding organizations for the new scheme. “But, rather, to honor, support and promote the entrepreneurial spirit of those working in partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals and the World Summit for Sustainable Development's Plan of Implementation.”
“By helping entrepreneurs to 'plant their seeds' and bring their ideas to fruition the SEED Awards can help achieve critically important goals like the reduction by half in 2015 of the proportion of the world's people who are unable to access or afford safe drinking water or do not have access to basic sanitation,” he said. A key aspect of the new initiative is that it will not award outcomes, but rather innovative partnership proposals. Award-winning partners - whether they are community groups, businesses, workers organizations or local authorities - will receive support in developing business plans, seeking funding and setting up partnerships.
The SEED Awards initiative will provide tailor-made support for the awardees to help them succeed. Awardees will be nascent partnership initiatives that show great promise and that have the potential to serve as showcases for other new initiatives. “Partnerships between NGOs, governments and companies are generating new ideas on how to balance economic, social and environmental needs in a sustainable way,” says Miguel Araujo, Director of Corporate Strategies of IUCN - The World Conservation Union, one of the organizations that spearhead the new award scheme. “However, not many people know about their success, why they are important, or how partnerships may be useful in their own communities.”
Partnerships build bridges between diverse interests and organizations. In this spirit, the SEED Awards are being launched today in parallel sessions at the World Social Forum in Mumbai and the World Economic Forum in Davos. A live, video-linked panel discussion will take place between participants in both locations.
The SEED Awards, to be presented every two years, were initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), IUCN - The World Conservation Union, and the UK-based NGO Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is also joining the initiative as one of the founding organisations. The scheme will be run in collaboration with Partnerships Central and the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi). The initiative is also supported by the United Nations Global Compact.
The SEED Awards' continued development is supported by the German Ministry for the Environment.