Since its inception in 2008, the annual US$4 million Zayed Future Energy Prize has been recognized by the most innovative and visionary leaders in global sustainability. The prize accepts submissions across four of five categories: Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), Non-Profit Organization (NPO), Global High Schools and nominations for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The breakdown across these five catego- ries includes a financial payment for small and medium businesses of US$1.5 million, another US$1.5 million for the selected NGO and a Lifetime Achievement of US$500,000. Global High Schools from across five regions: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Ocea- nia are awared US$100,000 each.

While one of the financial and cultur- al hubs of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is known for its pearls, desert safaris, world-class malls and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, this distinctly Arab city is also a leader in clean energy which looks to engage innovative individuals, organizations and schools in the sustainability debate, and find real solutions to meet the challenges of climate change, energy security and the environment.

As global entities prepare to enter the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize, the Permanent Representative of the UAE of Energy and Climate Change, Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, visited Bogotá to showcase this global prize and motive Colombians to present their energy-inspired proposals. “We are always looking for an impact on society,” stated Al Zeyoudi. “We are paying special attention to Colombia.”

In addition to receiving financial bene- fits, winners of the Prize are given a unique platform to promote their organizations and their work around sustainable practices and renewable energy development at global events such as the environmental sustainability forum SE4All.

Winners of last year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize were Panasonic Corporation (Large Corporation), M-Kopa Solar (SME), Liter of Light (NPO) and Former Vice President Al Gore (Lifetime Achievement). The Munro Academy of Canada was the winner for the Americas in the Global High Schools category. The winners were selected from a record number of submissions and nominations from across 84 countries.

Honouring the environmental vision and legacy of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and a founding father of the UAE, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is now under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Over the past seven years the Zayed Future Energy Prize has rewarded 39 innovators, awarded more than US$22 million and touched the lives of over 150 million people. And the planet is grateful as win- ners have also generated 190,000 MWh from renewables, reducing 800 million tons of carbon emissions, providing safe drinking water to six million people and introduced 350,000 people to enduring energy solutions. One of the qualifications to be nominated and reach the podium at Abu Dhabi, is that a proposed project looks long-term and can sustain itself by putting people before profit.

The Zayed prize also counts on a prestigious selection committee that includes leaders from the World Energy Council, the United Nations Foundation, Forum for the Future, Columbia University, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the International Renewable Energy Agency and more. Once entries are shortlisted, potential winners are selected by a jury of former world leaders, academic and corporate presidents, as well as visionary entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson.

With no shortage of Colombian inventiveness and social thinking, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is all about living “green.” Hopefully in a not-to-distant future and from a green country like ours, an idea will arise which will make a difference.

So whether you’re a secondary school in a remote region of this country and can come up with an innovative way to power tablets with solar energy or a social entrepreneur working to better the future of a community by providing clean solutions to waste and contamination, then the United Arab Emirates wants to know. Therefore, all organizations and individuals are encouraged to submit proposals before the June 22nd deadline on the Zayed Future Energy website: