The St Andrews Prize for the Environment

Tuesday 22 March 2016


Following receipt of over 500 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 by the University of St Andrews in Scotland and independent exploration and production company ConocoPhillips.

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

Previous winning projects have included 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, Chairman of the Trustees for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, says: “It is very encouraging to see that entries for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment are up from last year. Selecting our three finalists in 2016 was extremely challenging. The Prize continues to reach a growing international audience and this year we have seen an increase in the number of countries with applicants. In 2015, we had applications from 73 countries and this year we have 90 countries in total, which is fantastic.

“We live in uncertain times and the environmental challenges and problems faced across the globe are both diverse and complex. We must work together to conserve the environment, not only for ourselves, but for future generations. The innovative ideas and projects supported by the Prize can help us achieve this.”

In 2016, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment will award its 18th winner. Submissions are 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. The finalists’ presentations will be heard at a seminar at the University of St Andrews and the winner will be announced on Thursday 21 April 2016.

This year’s finalists are:

SPOUTS of Water – Ceramic Water Filters in East Africa

SPOUTS of Water provides clean drinking water to people in East Africa by manufacturing and distributing affordable ceramic water filters. An alternative to boiling water, the project installs filters in schools, prisons, refugee camps, police and army barracks and other public spaces.

The need for clean water is particularly critical in Uganda with roughly 25 per cent of the population having little or no access to safe drinking water. Water-borne disease remains the leading cause of death for children under five in the country.

In Uganda, centralised solutions for clean water are often ineffective. Tap water is not safe to drink as wells and boreholes are often contaminated. Ceramic water filters are the only cost-effective, culturally acceptable and safe household solution available.

SPOUTS of Water aims to create a profitable product that provides a sustainable solution to the clean water crisis. The organisation wants to provide clean drinking water to the people of East Africa and build a scalable model that can be replicated in other parts of the world.

Mamirauá Institute – Bringing Back an Amazon Giant

The Mamirauá Institute’s Fishing Management Programme is focused on increasing the population of an endangered species of fish called Giant Arapaima. The project helps improve the prospects of isolated riverine communities in the Amazon, where fishing is essential to their survival and income.

In the 1980s, foreign boats began fishing deeper into the Amazon interior and overfishing caused the decline of populations of the Giant Arapaima, which is one of the most sought-after fish in the region. Alongside a permanent fishing ban of the species in 1996, Brazil’s last socioeconomic census showed that the 700+ thousand people who live in the region had the lowest Human Development Index in the country.

Thanks to a change in Brazilian legislation later in 1996, a Sustainable Development Reserve model was introduced to ensure the sustainability of fish populations in the Amazon. The Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development was created in 1999 to monitor fish stocks in the region by involving fishermen’s associations and unions. The Mamirauá Institute aims to create a greater awareness of the project and expand its partnership network to help scale the model to other places beyond South America.

Liter of Lite Brazil – Ecologically Sustainable Lighting

Liter of Light Brazil empowers disadvantaged communities without electricity by teaching them how to create sustainable light sources using basic equipment. The affordable DIY day system provides light to homes, schools and public centres for less than $2 US per unit.

Around 1.3 billion people in the world and more than 3 million people in Brazil suffer from energy poverty. Liter of Light is a global open-source movement that provides sustainable lighting free of charge to simple dwellings around the world. The simple device consists of a plastic bottle filled with water and bleach, fitted through the roof of a home to refract sunlight. The device provides the same amount of light as a 55 Watt light bulb and produces zero carbon emissions. The technology can also be upgraded with LED bulbs, solar panels and batteries to provide low-cost lighting at night.

Liter of Light empowers communities by teaching local people basic electrical skills that enable them to make the devices themselves. There are still around 600 communities in the Amazon without a regular electricity supply and Liter of Light aims to bring its project to the riverside communities of Dominguinhos, Bararuá, Jacarezinho and São Jorge do Membeca.

Notes to news editors:

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