2023 Ashden Award

Natural Climate Solutions (International)

Applications closing Wednesday 8 March 2023

Calling all natural climate solutions innovators:

Is your project tackling climate change while strengthening the incomes, wellbeing and security of Indigenous peoples and local communities?

Is your work centred on the needs, priorities and knowledge of Indigenous people and local communities, supporting them to be effective stewards of forests and protect biodiversity?

Apply to the 2022 Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions by Wednesday 8 March.

Winning prize fund: £25,000

Supported by: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Natural Climate Solutions award

Around the world, indigenous peoples and local communities hold a unique power to protect and restore essential ecosystems. From forests to wetlands, these ecosystems are a key defence against climate change. But when local people are threatened – or denied the chance to make a sustainable living – our climate is threatened too. 

The Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions will boost work in developing countries strengthening the incomes, wellbeing and security of Indigenous peoples and local communities – allowing them to act as guardians and restorers of their lands. Indigenous people safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity, but face daily threats to their way of life.  

The winner could be turning palm or soy plantation areas into sustainable productive land, helping communities restore degraded or desertified ecosystems, or supporting community forest enterprises. The winner’s work will be centred on the needs, priorities and knowledge of indigenous people and local communities. 

See all other 2023 awards open for applications  

 

Key dates

applications open

18 January2023

Applications Close*

8 March 2023

Shortlist
announced

June2023

Finalists announced

September2023

Winners announced at award ceremony

Autumn2023

* This is the final deadline for all stages of application, including both initial Expression of Interest and second stage.

Meet past Natural Climate Solutions winners

Previous Natural Climate Solutions award winners provide excellent examples of replicable models supporting indigenous communities to play a central role in the restoration of degraded land and be properly remunerated for their work and expertise:

2022 Natural Climate Solutions Award winner

This NGO has been working with indigenous communities in Indonesian Borneo to reverse illegal logging and deforestation for more than 15 years.

2021 Natural Climate Solutions Award winner

A community-based NGO network working with rainforest communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to make a sustainable living though agriculture and tourism.

2020 Natural Climate Solutions Award winner

This indigenous-led organisation is doing critical work supporting the livelihoods and valuing the skills and knowledge of indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon.

FAQs

Eligibility for applying for an award

Businesses, NGOs, government organisations, and social enterprises (both for-profit and not-for-profit, including community groups) are all eligible. Each award is limited to work in certain parts of the world. See below for a list of countries eligible for each award. 

Energy Innovation: UK 

Skills in Sustainable Land Management: UK 

Community Nature Adaptation: UK 

Integrated Energy Africa: Africa 

Energising Agriculture: International (ODA recipients) 

Natural Climate Solutions: International (ODA recipients) 

Powering Refugees and Displaced People: International (ODA recipients) 

Skills Powering Energy Access: International (ODA recipients) 

To be shortlisted and win an award, all applicants must satisfy these eligibility criteria:  

  1. The work submitted for an award must be currently available to customers, clients or beneficiaries.
  2. The applicant must show an innovative approach in their work. 
  3. The applicant’s work must have the potential to create significant impact. This might be achieved by their growth as an organisation, or the replication of their innovation around the world. Applicants must be willing to work with Ashden and others to achieve this goal. ‘Significant’ impact could be a large reduction in emissions, a mitigation action that addresses a serious threat to people’s wellbeing, or a transformation in people’s quality of life – particularly the most marginalised.  
  4. The applicant must show good governance and management. We are looking for efficient use of funds and a strong plan to generate further income, whether from sales, grants or any other source. Organisations can be for profit or not-for-profit. Winners must have sustainability embedded in their values and practices.
Applying for an award

Applications made in English must be completed and submitted via our online application system. Start by registering your interest, using the link near the top of this page. We will review your registration of interest, and let you know whether you are invited to submit a full application form.

If you would like a preview of the application form, there is a copy here. Note that not all of the questions you see in this copy will appear when you complete the actual form online, as some are shown or hidden based on your answers to earlier questions. The copy of the form is for reference only – the form must becompleted online for your application to be considered

To apply in French, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic, follow the relevant link below to download a form to register your interest. Send the completed form to apply@ashden.org

French

Spanish

Portuguese

Arabic

If you decide not to complete your application for any reason then you may withdraw by contacting us at apply@ashden.org

If you would like to discuss whether your work is relevant to the Ashden Awards, or have questions about the application process, please contact us on +44 (0) 207410 7023 orapply@ashden.org  

Applications Applications for the 2023 Ashden Awards will close on Wednesday 8 March 2023, 23:59 GMT. Both the registration of interest AND the full application form need to be submitted by this date. So don’t leave your registration of interest to the last minute as you will have to complete the next stage by the deadline as well. 

  • 8 March 2023: Deadline for receipt of full application forms (which are in addition to registration of interest)
  • Early April 2023: A small group of applicants will be chosen for each award and asked for additional information, financial accounts and references. All other applicants will be told they have not been successful. 
  • Mid-April 2023: Deadline for receipt of additional information, financial accounts and references. 
  • May 2023: Judging panels meet to select two finalists of applicants for each award. All other applicants told they have not been successful. 
  • May and June 2023: Assessors visit the finalists. 
  • July 2023: Judging panels meet to select award winners and runners-up. All finalists are told of the outcome, although this must be kept confidential until Ashden Awards week. 
  • August to October 2023: Preparation of publicity material about all finalists. Detailed case studies written about winners’ work. Film crew visit award winners. 
  • Autumn 2023 : Ashden Awards week, when winners are publically announced for the first time. Date to be confirmed. 

See awards list above.

In 2023, we will be awarding work that fits into the themes listed above and meets the criteria listed in our FAQS. Please refer to these themes and criteria when considering your application as eligibility for the different awards is based on the type of work you are engaged in and the country where that work is carried out.

When completing your application, please indicate the specific theme/themes you feel are most relevant to your work. We will consider your application in themes other than the ones you have indicated if we feel they fit your work more closely. If you feel you work doesn’t fit into any of the themes listed below, please contact apply@ashden.org to discuss your eligibility.    

Yes – you can make more than one application, providing they are for different programmes or businesses, if you are involved with more than one. Please do not submit two applications for the same work. 

No – for all our Awards, the work submitted for the Award must be currently available to customers, clients or beneficiaries. The more evidence that you can present for the impact of your work, the better your chance of meeting the award criteria. 

There is no fee to apply for an award. All you will need to do is make time to complete the registration of interest and full application form before the deadline, and then answer any questions we might ask you after you have submitted your form.

If you are shortlisted, you will also need to set aside time for preparing and hosting a judging visit from Ashden assessors. If you win, you will need to set aside up to one week to take part in Awards Week events. The location and timing of these events is to be confirmed, but may be in London, UK during November 2023.

All information submitted may be seen by the Ashden team (including judges and assessors). All our judges and assessors are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before viewing any application materials.

We generally retain their application materials of applicants that do not win for up to three years. by those applicants during this period. However, this is optional – there is a question in the form which asks for permission to do this. If permission is not given and you wish to reapply within the next three years, you will need to fill the application form in again.

 

 

If your application covers different work to that covered in your earlier submission, then you need to fill the application forms in as normal. If you’re reapplying for the same work, then a ‘fast-track’ application may be possible, if the following conditions are met:

  • Your original application was less than three years ago
  • When you made the original application you gave us permissions to retain your application documents.

If you think you might be eligible for a fast-track application, please contact us at apply@ashden.org.

It is a condition of your entry to the 2023 Ashden Awards that Ashden has the right to publicise your involvement through its communications channels (including but not limited to its website, social media platforms and ceremony programme).  All shortlisted applicants, finalists and particularly winners may be required by Ashden to participate in publicity opportunities such as media interviews.

To maximise the impact of our Awards, we announce our shortlist, finalist and winners on. If you reach the shortlisting stage, or win an Ashden Award, we ask you not to publicise this fact until the date set by us. Our communications team will work closely with you on this.

Judging criteria and process 

Eligible applications will be judged against the following general criteria:

  1. Decarbonisation, material use reduction and environmental protection. Applicants in the UK will be contributing to real and rapid reductions in fossil fuel use, overall energy use and raw material consumption. Applicants in global south will be enabling people to achieve a decent standard of living while reducing fossil fuel use and raw material consumption over time. Applicants will also strive to protect or enhance the environment and follow the necessary environmental due diligence process when carrying out their work, including to ensure the sustainability of their supply chains.
  2. Resilience and adaptation. Applicants will be building community resilience against climate change impacts and economic shocks, through the creation of livelihoods and adaptation efforts to enable people to live and work more sustainably, while contributing to a just and inclusive transition.
  3. Boosting green skills and work. Applicants will be helping people make a decent, secure, dignified living, in line with the ILO definition. This may include enabling people to gain or improve skills that are useful in a future sustainable society and economy, supporting the creation of paid and voluntary work that contributes to a fair transition away from fossil fuels, or enabling people to have sustainable livelihoods. It should also include giving attention to the position of women, vulnerable or under-represented groups in the job market.
  4. Reducing inequality. Applicants will be working proactively to reduce inequality within their own organisation, and aiming to reduce inequality in local communities, nationally or globally, including through their supply chains.
  5. Participation and democratisation. Applicants will be promoting participation and democratisation, for example by involving local communities, customers, beneficiaries or employees/workers in decision-making, or by enabling shared ownership of their organisation or the equitable distribution of benefits.
  6. Communications potential. Applicants will have developed an innovative solution that will inspire others to replicate, invest in or enable the work to be scaled. The solution will also have the potential to be effectively communicated to a broad audience using words, film and images to tell powerful, people-centred stories of change and impact. Applicants will be able to identify staff, customers or beneficiaries who have a story to tell about the impact of the applicant’s work on people’s lives.

Details of the judging panel will be released on our website. The assessment teams include Ashden staff, representatives from funders and knowledge partners, and freelance specialists in specific sectors

If your organisation is shortlisted, we will get in touch in early April to ask for the following, to better understand your work and assure ourselves of your financial viability: 

  1. Answers to some additional questions about your work (via phone, video conference and/or email).
  2. A copy of your financial accounts for the past two years.
  3. A copy of your draft accounts for the current financial year.
  4. A short informal video summarising the work you do, why it deserves an Ashden Award, and how the award would benefit you.
  5. Contact details for two referees, who will be followed up if you are selected as a finalist.

If you are selected as a finalist, we will get in touch to arrange a visit to assess your work. For applicants based in the UK, the judging visit usually takes a whole day, and involves one or two people from Ashden and sometimes a representative from the funder of the award.  

For applicants with work based in other countries, the visit usually lasts one to three days, and involves one  assessor, who could be from the Ashden team or could be someone more local to your work who is a member of the Ashden network. We often also carry out interviews via Zoom in addition to a physical visit by an assessor.  

The visit will include meetings with key staff such as your chief executive, financial officer, the person in charge of the work submitted for an Award, and other employees. It will also include seeing the work submitted in operation, usually through site visits, and meeting customers or clients. Applicants that are chosen to be visited will be credited as runners-up if they do not become winners. We require you not to share news of your longlisting, shortlisting or award win until a certain date.  

Winning an award
  • A prize of £10,000 or £25,000 each, depending on which award you 
  • Prestige of winning one of the world’s top sustainability awards. The rigour of our assessment process is well known to investors, policymakers, academics and other experts in the sustainable energy and climate change sector around the world. 
  • Membership of an alumni network of Ashden Award winners, which facilitates learning and opportunities to create productive partnerships. 
  • Opportunities to present your work to large and influential audiences at the Ashden Awards Ceremony and other Ashden events. 
  • The chance to have your work profiled in regional, national, international and specialist media. Ashden’s communication team works to get winners exposure in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, and on a wide range on online platforms. This continues long after the award ceremony – Ashden regularly secures coverage for winners months and even years after they win their award.  
  • Promotional material including photographs, print material and broadcast quality video for winners to use in their own marketing efforts.  
  • Where it can have a significant impact, tailored support from our programme team to grow or replicate your work: this can include professional mentoring, training, help raising finance and investment, and media and communications support. 
  • Where it can have significant impact, introductions to influential policy and decision makers, and an opportunity to make your voice heard. 
  • We also seek to integrate UK-based winners into our Sustainable Towns and Cities programme of work, where we embed our winners’ approaches into policy and practice. Our widely used resources for local authorities such as a climate action co-benefits toolkit, and our Learning Out Loud pages feature many of our alumni. We also regularly showcase our winners at our regional local authority learning workshops, and our network of city region sustainability lead officers.
  • Additionally, there is opportunity for our winners to participate in a programme of free masterclasses which help them to get to grips with a wide range of practical issues. This can be anything from customer experience, developing a communications strategy or getting investment ready.

As an Ashden Award winner, we ask you to: 

  1. Take part in the awards week events which are expected to take place in November 2023, location to be confirmed.  Winning an Ashden Award is contingent on taking part in the awards week activities.
  2. Receive a visit from our video producer and in some cases a photographer. 
  3. Participate in media interviews. 
  4. Agree with Ashden what you will spend the prize fund on and any business support you may receive. 
  5. Provide monitoring data about the progress of your work after one, two and three years. 
  6. Join our global alumni network of over 200 winners, a unique opportunity for learning and collaboration. 

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