Richard Branson’s recent commitment to this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize jury speaks volumes not only about Abu Dhabi’s leadership in energy innovation, but also the faith world leaders place in the emirate’s (many) initiatives.
Leonardo DiCaprio has moved on from the ZFEP jury after serving for two years, Vesela Todorova from The National reports, and this year Richard Branson and Indian industrialist Ratan N Tata will take his place.
The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, will continue to act as chair of the jury.
Every year since 2008, the Abu-Dhabi funded competition has recognized NGOs, small and medium businesses, large corporations and an individual who have made meaningful contributions to the pressing clean-energy conversation.
Last year for the first time, global high schools were invited to submit their projects for consideration, and this year, the number of global submissions in that category doubled – a good sign that the next generation is thinking hard to find solutions for their future on this imperiled planet.
“We believe we have come to a critical point, where encouraging, rewarding and awarding innovation in renewable energy through funding and investments is vital for the industry’s growth and success,” Dr Sultan Al Jaber, director general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s sustainable energy company Masdar, told The National.
Winners from each of the five categories divvy up $4 million in prize money, which is awarded in January at the now popular annual World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Green Prophet attended the 2012 ceremony as part of a Masdar-funded media tour. You can learn more about last year’s winners and see photographs of the event here.