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Lighting up local communities

  • Published at 03:51 pm January 5th, 2019
SF-Jan 5, 2019
Photos : courtesy

2, 000 solar lanterns light up Faridpur as Zayed Sustainability Prize’s ‘Guiding Light’ arrives in Bangladesh

Following the December 5 launch in Bahrain, and an event in Bolivia on December 6, the Zayed Sustainability Prize’s ‘Guiding Light’ global campaign came to Bangladesh, lighting up Hazarbighar Char Island, Faridpur, with 2,000 solar lanterns. 

The impressive 20 by 20 metre light installation, revealing the Zayed Sustainability Prize logo, took place just after sunset on the island of Hazarbighar Char. The solar lanterns were then donated to beneficiaries in the surrounding communities. 1,847 beneficiaries are to receive the lanterns including school students, local shopkeepers, fishermen and their families, vulnerable women and children, as well as workers of a local community health centre. Most of them are from disadvantaged families with limited or no access to on-grid power.

Inspired by the sustainability and humanitarian legacy of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Zayed Sustainability Prize is the UAE’s pioneering global award for recognizing innovative and inspirational sustainability solutions that deliver human impact.

Based out of Dhaka, 2009 Prize winner, Founder and Chairman of the Bright Green Energy Foundation, Dipal Barua, worked with the Prize and his foundation to oversee the organization and set-up of the Bangladesh event. In keeping with the campaign’s other global events, when lit, the 20 by 20 metre light installation reveals the Zayed Sustainability Prize logo.

The inaugural Prize winner, Dipal Barua, is a world-renowned Development Economist with decades of experience in providing sustainable, market-based, solutions to the socio-economic problems of rural people. Dipal Barua is also a long-time international advocate for the implementation and distribution of affordable, mass-scale, solar PV technology to improve the lives of off-grid communities in areas of energy, light, income, and health. This campaign offers further support to his goal of turning Bangladesh into a “solar nation”.

The campaign now moves on to Kenya, where the next event will be in partnership with 2013 Prize winner d.light. The campaign will conclude with an event in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, on January 9.

Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said, “The Guiding Light campaign reflects the Prize’s commitment to driving positive social change around the world. By partnering with past Prize winners, like Bright Green Energy Foundation, to deliver solar lanterns to off-grid communities in Bangladesh, we highlight our winners’ humanitarian efforts and inspire others to address global sustainability challenges.”

Dipal Barua said, “The impact of the Guiding Light campaign has literally brightened the lives of thousands of homes and health centres across this off-grid island of approximately 10,000 inhabitants. These lights will contribute to enabling children to study after dark and health centres to stay open and treat patients at night, including providing a safely lit environment in which women in labour can have their children delivered."


66 winners have so far been recipients of the Prize. Collectively, these winners have gone on to, directly or indirectly, positively affect the lives of over 307 million people around the world. 

Following the evolution of the Zayed Sustainability Prize from the Zayed Future Energy Prize, earlier this year, the 2019 awards will now include categories in Health, Food, Energy, Water, and Global High Schools. This demonstrates the Prize’s now closer alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UAE government’s own “National Agenda 2021”. 

Winners of the 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize will be announced at the awards ceremony, held during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, on January 14.

Guiding Light is a global campaign that is running from December 5, 2018 to January 9, 2019. The event locations and dates are Bahrain (December 5), Bolivia (December 6), Bangladesh (December 18), Kenya (January 6), and, finally, the United Arab Emirates (January 9).

About the Zayed Sustainability Prize

Established by the UAE leadership, in 2008, as the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the Zayed Sustainability Prize is a global award inspired by the sustainability legacy of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Culminating in an annual awards ceremony, held each year during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the Zayed Sustainability Prize invites pioneers from around the world to be part of a growing community of innovators, committed to developing impactful sustainability solutions and accelerating the development of projects that serve people across the world and for future generations to come. 

For more information, please visit www.ZayedSustainabilityPrize.com