St Andrews Prize for the Environment

Wednesday 22 March 2017


Following receipt of over 800 entries from around the world, three finalists have been chosen for this year’s prestigious St Andrews Prize for the Environment. The winner will receive 100,000 USD and the two runners-up will each receive 25,000 USD.

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is a joint environmental initiative from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and independent exploration and production company ConocoPhillips.

The Prize focuses on sustainability, conservation, biodiversity and community development, supporting a wide range of projects from around the world on diverse topics including sustainable development, food security, urban re-generation, recycling, health, water and waste issues, renewable energy and community development. Ideas may be global, local and/or scalable and outline how they will socially and economically impact the communities in which they are based.

Previous winning projects have included improving living and health standards, water purification systems, sanitation projects and the preservation of endangered species. A significant benefit to the winners is that they gain access to the expertise of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment team and past winners.

Lord Alec Broers, Chair of the Trustees for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, says: “This year has seen several milestones achieved for the Prize. The global reach has increased, with entries coming from 99 countries in 2017, up from 90 in 2016. The number of entries received has also surpassed previous records with over 800 entries. This growth has meant the selection of the three finalists has been an extremely difficult task for the Trustees. We would like to thank all the projects that took the time to enter this year’s Prize and our Screening Committee for their valuable insight.

“The range of challenges faced across the world remains diverse and complex. This is never more apparent than when reviewing the entries for the Prize and seeing the incredible work that is taking place to confront these challenges. In recent years, we have seen a rise in sustainability projects coming forward and, we hope, by supporting such projects that we can help tackle these challenges together.”

The finalists’ presentations will be heard at a seminar at the University of St Andrews and the winner will be selected on Thursday 27 April 2017and publicised on Friday 28 April 2017.

This year’s finalists are:

Plantwise – Increasing Food Security Across the Globe

Plantwise: a global programme providing smallholder farmers across the world with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases.

Led by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Plantwise is a collaboration of over 200 partners worldwide at a local, national and global level to increase food security and improve rural livelihoods.

By establishing networks of local plant clinics, where farmers can obtain agricultural advice from trained plant doctors, they can increase their crop yields and farm incomes and decrease the use of hazardous pesticides.

The clinics are reinforced by the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, a gateway to actionable on and offline information. The Bank collects data about the farmers, the crops and the pests affecting them, which is then shared with national stakeholders. This cyclical flow of information means everyone can benefit from improved knowledge, including Plantwise who can then develop targeted best-practice guidelines for managing crop losses.

Plantwise has to date reached over 4.5 million farmers in 34 countries, with 79 per cent seeing their crop yields increase after their clinic visit. Their aim is to be established in 40 countries by 2020. With plans to roll-out tablets to plant clinics in multiple countries across an entire region, such as West Africa, Plantwise is trying to improve the quality of the recommendations given to farmers, and the speed of data collection, allowing them to track outbreaks of pests in real time.

The Pump, The Fish and The Garden – Aquaponics in the Philippines

Aquaponics: innovative integration of vegetable and fish production to provide food, nutrition and livelihood for the poor.

Community Hopes Alternatives Inc (CHAI), working with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Municipal Government of Pagbilao (MGP), uses aquaponics to provide food and nutrition to poor communities in the Philippines.

Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture where waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic creatures supplies the nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water. CHAI’s system utilises aquaponics to integrate hydroponic vegetable production with the closed fish production system. Their innovative modification of the traditional hydroponic process means that aquaponics pumps can be introduced at a household level, where resources and space are limited.

Their aim is to introduce a ‘three for all scheme’ or three units per household. Harvests from the first unit are for household food to address nutrition problems, harvest from the second is for sale for household income, and the remaining unit is also for sale but the net income will be collected by the project and used to recover costs and reach more beneficiaries.

Tested in a small village in the Philippines, one basic aquaponics set produced 80 to 100kg of fish and 100 to 150kg of vegetables per year. After a year of implementation, the weight of previously malnourished children increased to a normal weight for their age. Beyond significant health benefits, the system also provides income to families through the selling of excess fish and vegetables produced.

CHAI aims to increase the scale of production and install more systems to empower families to sustainably produce their own balanced food. Beyond households, their goals include installing the system in community centres and public schools to reach even more people, and training local artisans to manufacture and distribute the systems.

The Solar Socket – Bringing Light to Health

Bringing light to health: using solar refrigerators to power health care centres in disaster zones and unindustrialised regions.

Dulas Ltd have pioneered solar powered medical equipment since 1985, with their solar vaccine and blood refrigerators being used to save lives every day in war zones, unindustrialised regions, and areas affected by natural disaster.

During installation trips, the team witnessed recurring problems with healthcare in these areas, including complications during middle-of-the-night childbirths and medical emergencies, because of lack of light, doctors being unable to call the nearest hospitals, patients travelling long distances for medical attention, and viable vaccines being destroyed because of lack of certainty that they were safe to use.

They considered the surplus power generated by their refrigerators and, with a simple adaptation, they realised they could convert them to stand-alone power sources, creating the Solar Socket.

The Solar Socket is a small panel of USB and car charger sockets that plugs directly into the front of the refrigerator. Remaining 100 per cent safe and stable, the refrigerator can now create a fully energised health centre with lighting and medical equipment. Powering lamps, fans and laptops, the Solar Socket is ideal for charging a phone, which can become a hand-held blood pressure monitor, a vaccination barcode scanner, a bank, a medication scheduler, or simply a lifeline to call for help.

Dulas plans to distribute 20,000 refrigerators per year before 2020, amounting to 80,000 potential ‘solarised’ medical centres all over the world, and more lives saved. It is a stand-alone revolutionary addition to the medical refrigerator market.


In 2017, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment will award its 19th winner. Submissions are screened by representatives from the University of St Andrews and ConocoPhillips before being assessed by a panel of Trustees representing science, industry and Government. The award goes to the project that the Trustees believe displays the best combination of science, economic realism and sustainability.


For further media information, photographs and to arrange interviews, contact Andrew Spence, Mearns & Gill, on +44 1224 646311 or [email protected].

The University of St Andrews Press Office can be contacted on 01334 462530 or [email protected].

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