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Whole of Society Climate Action


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Dr Stephen Hall, Head of Awards, Ashden, asks: What does real climate leadership look like? Is it about going it alone, a solo genius racing off and leaving others in their dust?

To me, this old ‘hero’ model is well past its best. As Head of Awards at climate charity Ashden, it’s my job to sniff out at game-changing innovation. Doing so has taught me that the best solutions are built on teamwork, and also that they create powerful ripples of impact. Real climate leadership doesn’t just grab glory for one person or organisation. It makes great ideas mainstream, and lifts up whole sectors and whole communities.

Seven brilliant winners

We’re proud to bring our 2024 Ashden Award ceremony to London Climate Action Week, celebrating seven brilliant winners from the UK and Global South. Of course, awards are by their nature competitive. But the solutions we are elevating – with publicity, prize money and more – all have something in common.

They demonstrate the power of working together. They show that climate action does more than decarbonise or adapt our societies. It builds better places and stronger communities at the same time.

Working together, inspiring hope, and raising ambition – they’re the ideas that drive our awards, and they have characterised our winners for more than 20 years. Collaboration on climate is not a nice to have, it is essential in solving the complex challenges of decarbonising as fast as possible within a just transition.

Challenges like bringing electricity to the 760 million people worldwide who currently go without it. That’s something on the minds of Power for All – a 2023 Ashden Award winner. In Uganda they have pioneered a bold new approach to energy access, bringing together hundreds of stakeholders and partners, from village communities to energy firms and national government.

Key to their success is creating the policies and opportunities that make it economically viable to supply clean, affordable power to rural areas. Something that demands massive co-operation, not to mention ambition. But when it happens, the impact is huge: in the small town of Kiwumu, access to clean power made possible by Power for All’s collaboration has boosted small business revenues by 68%.

The power of collaboration

Image: The 2023 Ashden Award winners, accepting their prizes at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Credit: Andy Aitchison/Ashden

Collaboration between organisations and communities is vital too. And there’s a cracking example from the capital, that also scooped an Ashden Award last year. In North London, Enfield Council and environmental charity Thames21 have come together to protect communities from extreme weather by bringing new life to neglected waterways.

Local volunteers are at the heart of the action, restoring rivers and creating new woods and wetlands. This approach means that as well as dealing with flood dangers and pollution, the scheme brings residents the chance to get active and closer to nature.

Collaboration is possible across borders too. We saw this last year when we united two award winners based thousands of miles apart. One was Ceraf Nord, a grassroots organisation supporting rural communities in Cameroon to protect their land make a sustainable living through nut-growing, beekeeping and other activities.

In November we brought Ceraf Nord to the Cotswolds, home of another Ashden winner – Farm Ed, a centre for regenerative agriculture that’s aiming to transform the UK’s food production system. They may be based on separate continents, but the two organisations face common challenges: from the technical details of honey production to big picture questions, like how to inspire and mobilise communities.

Broadening horizons is essential to sparking impactful climate action. So we can’t wait to get out and about in London Climate Action Week, helping this year’s award winners share their stories and learn from others too.

Want an evening of networking and climate inspiration? Join us at the Institution of Engineering and Technology on 27 June for the 2024 Ashden Awards.

We’ll also bring the innovators behind outstanding climate solutions to Reset Connect at the Excel Centre on 25 and 26 June. Find our stand and events, and meet these climate champions for yourself.