Inspires Filipino community to support sustainability projects
By Kab. Laliebeth Petancio
ABU DHABI – The Philippines was once again in the spotlight at the 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize (ZSP) for which Muntinlupa National High School (MNHS) won a grant of $100,000 (PhP5.2 million) for its entry “Revitalized Algae Microfarm Project” (RevAMP).
The announcement of winners of the 2019 ZSP was made during the opening of the World Future Energy Summit, part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, held last January 14.
Since awarding the Prize for the first time in 2009, its winners have had a direct and indirect impact on the lives of more than 307 million people around the world and have been able to contribute significantly towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1 billion tons. They have also saved 1.2 billion megawatts of clean energy, while expanding access to energy to 27.5 million people in some of the poorest communities in Africa and Asia.
The 11th edition of the Zayed Sustainability Prize’s annual awards ceremony was attended by global heads of state, UAE government ministers, stakeholders, previous winners, beneficiaries and the 2019 finalists.
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.
RevAMP is the second to win for the Philippines after the “Liter of Light” won in 2015.
The project, situated inside the campus, cultivates green algae for biofuel and create sustainable products.
“We are planning to build a micro-farm in our school wherein we can efficiently cultivate the green algae, which can be used for various purposes in the field of medicine, food and health. It can be used in the energy sector as it can be converted into biofuel,” said Maria Regaele Olarte, a researcher at the school in an interview with Kabayan Weekly.
She said that with the increasing problems in electricity and energy in the Philippines, the project offers an alternative power source other than the many beneficial factors it can also provide.
Along with MNHS as winner in the Zayed Sustainability Prize for Global High School Category (East Asia and Pacific), are nine other winners: We Care Solar (Health Category); BBOXX (Energy Category); Sanku (Food Category); ECOSOFTT (Water Category); Gymnasium Goethe (Global High School Category – Europe and Central Asia); American School of Dubai (Global High School Category – Middle East and North Africa); African Leadership Academy (Global High School Category – Sub-Saharan Africa); SECMOL (Global High School Category – South Asia); and The Impact School (Global High School Category – The Americas).
The Zayed Sustainability Prize is a tribute to UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed, formerly the Zayed Future Energy Prize that rewards companies and organisations around the globe which demonstrate tangible, positive-impact projects through sustainable solutions. The annual award celebrates achievements that are considered driving impact, innovation and inspiration in five distinct categories in Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools.
This year, the Prize’s global reach has expanded into 130 countries, which the number of submissions received was higher than ever before, implying a greater human impact, organizers said in their website.
Inspires wider perspective
The day after the announcement of the prestigious awards, the Philippine Embassy led by Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana hosted a celebratory dinner to congratulate the proponents of the project, which was graced by Filipino business leaders and the media.
“I am very, very proud,” said Ambassador Quintana as she also described the ZSP Awarding ceremonies a very prestigious event attended by some eight heads of the emirates of UAE and other dignitaries.
“What the Muntinlupa National High School has shown is how they could impact the local communities in the Philippines with their project. It has promoted so much awareness about how to have a sustainable future that could impact the energy security, food security, health and medicine,” Quintana said in an interview, at a fitting gathering, held on January 15, 2019, at Hot Palayok Restaurant WTC.
“The criteria set by the Zayed Sustainability Prize include innovation, inspiration and impact, which I believe we have achieved, and I think we were able to widen the scope of the project from focusing on the future energy alternative, such as the bio-fuel harvest, to focusing on different beneficial aspects of green algae in food, nutrition, health and the environment,” said Maria Regaele Olarte, one of the proponents of the project.
“We would like to spread awareness to the community and show them the various benefits that algae can offer,” Olarte added, saying that algae are considered as super food rich in vitamins and minerals not widely known to many.
“We are planning to build a Zayed Community Hub alongside the micro-farm in honour of Sheik Zayed. This will be a place where livelihood trainings and consultancy are conducted with hands-on activities that will involve the students to empower their skills and motivation,” said Olarte in a separate interview with the Kabayan Weekly.
The MNHS delegation includes teachers Ma. Regaele Olarte and Jason Albaro, May Faldas, student representative, Dr. Florante Marmeto, school principal, and Dr. Mauro De Gulan, Department of Education Schools Division superintendent.
Pledge of support to sustainable projects
Last January 19, the Philippine Business Council – PBC Abu Dhabi initiated a small gathering to honour the awardees and allowed them to present their winning Prize entry to the Filipino business and community leaders.
“As the Chairman of PBC Abu Dhabi, for and in behalf of the global Filipinos in the UAE, we congratulate the MNHS. It is an honor to bring home another pride that the Filipinos around the world would continue to be grateful of,” said Deborah Gay A. Dayrit.
“The UAE Government, through the ZSP believed in Filipino ingenuity; we then must work together to prove that this belief will prosper into a successful endeavour. From here, we’re going to work together, and we will continue until we see that this project is replicated all over the Philippines,” Dayrit added.
Meanwhile, Bayanihan Council Chairman Engr. Elmer O. Casao stood to show the same enthusiasms and intention.
“I would like to appeal to all the Filipino Community organizations, and especially the professional organizations, to join our forces together and show the very essence of Bayanihan spirit by throwing our full support to ensure the sustainability of ReVAMP. Let’s put all our acts together to keep this project going and be the catalyst of change which will help also make, not just our country, but this world a better place to live in,” said Casao.
Finding innovative, sustainable solutions
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, alongside leaders and representatives from the winning countries, presented the awards to the 10 winners of the 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize, at the annual awards ceremony.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed congratulated the winners and praised their efforts and valuable contribution to support sustainable development. He encouraged them to keep up the good work to find innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future global challenges. He also praised their creative ideas and efforts that have contributed to the economic and social development of their countries and regions.
“This year’s awards mark a significant milestone in the history of the prize and the UAE. Throughout 2018, we saw the nation unite in commemoration of the UAE’s Founding Father, with the Year of Zayed. The celebrations inspired the prize’s evolution to recognise a wider scope of globally impactful solutions to address the world’s sustainability challenges,” he said.
“Under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the legacy of Sheikh Zayed’s values continues to shape our global vision for development that is sustainable and inclusive, which we will celebrate throughout 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’,” he added.
The ceremony was also attended by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court; and H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and a number of senior ministers and officials. (With a report from zayedsustainabilityprize.com)