Inaugural SEED Awards Trigger Groundswell of Global Response
Gland, Switzerland. Over 260 new partnership proposals from sixty-six countries, representing 1,200 organizations, have been received in response to a call for submissions by the Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (SEED) Initiative under its biennial SEED Awards programme.
The proposed ideas advance economic growth, social development and environmental stewardship in their countries. The scale of this response indicates the breadth of entrepreneurial and innovative activity dedicated to advancing sustainable development and reveals the types of creative partnerships taking action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The SEED Initiative is designed to inspire and support promising locally-driven entrepreneurial partnerships for sustainable development and to generate knowledge about their experiences in order to aid policymakers and future partnerships. Partners in the Seed Initiative include IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Environment Ministries of Germany and Norway, and the United States Government.
The diverse pool of submissions for the inaugural awards include local businesses, multinational corporations, public authorities, industry associations, research institutes, local women's groups, international and national civil society organizations and local and regional cooperatives. Ninety percent of the submissions are from partnerships in developing countries with the vast majority designed by and for local people.
IUCN Director General Achim Steiner said of worldwide reaction to the SEED Awards:
The innovative thinking in these submissions clearly shows how practical results can be achieved through joining hands across the broad spectrum of institutional diversity and interests. They address the critical issues many countries are facing such as access to water and energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer commented:
The sheer number and inventiveness of these proposals reveals the tremendous potential of entrepreneurial partnerships to contribute to sustainable development. The 1,200 organizations engaged with the award plainly demonstrate that all sectors are eager to pool their energies, knowledge and resources.
An international selection panel is currently reviewing the proposals and ten finalists will be announced in early October. Finalists will receive specialized training and support, as well as participate in a series of interactive events, at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok this November. The five winners of the first Seed Awards will be announced during ceremonies at the 13th session of the UN's Commission on Sustainable Development in April 2005.
Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator said:
The global community must rise to the challenge of nurturing innovative entrepreneurial and partnership activities in order to provide the essential support all sectors of society require to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Malloch Brown urged the international community to help this new wave of cooperative action achieve its potential.
Germany's Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin expressed his pleasure at the success to date of the SEED Initiative:
I am convinced that such innovative partnerships can play a vital role in complementing governments' efforts to achieve sustainable development. The response to the first call for the SEED Awards exceeds our expectations and underlines our confidence in this initiative as a means to encourage and promote creativity and synergies between unlikely partners.