The Zayed Prize is the most prestigious green energy award in the Middle East so it’s easy to see why they have the pick of the bunch when it comes to putting together their jury. This year however, they really have outdone themselves.
As well as securing Mohammed Nasheed, the president of the Republic of Maldives who has campaigned internationally on climate change, they have managed to convince Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-award winning actor/environmental activist, and Grand Slam Tennis Champion Andre Agassi to join them. Cherie Blair, wife of the previous Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair, will also be deciding the winners for the award for innovation, leadership, long-term vision and impact on renewable energy and sustainability.
Clearly, a celebrity-packed jury is one way to make the headlines (it certainly got us talking!), which can be a good thing if the celebrity happens to be talking about something green. The Zayed Future Energy Prize aims to encourage the ongoing development of renewable energy and clean technology in the world and the jury will convene later this year to decide on the winner who will be honoured in a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on January 17, 2012. The prize is open to individuals, large companies, small and meduim enterprises and non-governmental organisations.
The first prize is neat $1.5 million (Dh5.5 million) which will no doubt go a long to help improve renewable energy projects. The new jury members will join continuing members: Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland; Ahmad Al Sayegh, Chairman of Masdar; and Dr Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Previous winners include the giant wind company Vestas who gave away half of their $1.5 million to other renewable projects in 2011.
All this talk of green celebrities, however, has got me thinking. Why doesn’t the Middle East have any green celebrities of it own? I mean celebrities such as singers and actors that happen to be environmental activists and not just famous green activists. And are green celebrities really that useful in promoting the cause?
A lot of people find the green-talk of rich celebrities patronizing and rather hypocritical. I mean, we all know about the infamous incident when the green rockstar Bono paid for his hat to be flown to him or the event in Syria, where celebrities released environmentally unfriendly balloons to promote a green lifestyle. So are we really missing out on anything? Lets us know what you think.
:: Image via virvikram/picasa.
For more on the Zayed Prize see: