The Ashden Awards boost outstanding climate solutions. For more than 20 years our awards have backed radical ideas delivering lower emissions and a fairer world, with grants and development support on offer to winners and finalists.
Now, in a pivotal year for the future of our planet, we want to hear about your bold and brilliant work. Entry to the awards is free, and applications close on Wednesday 3 March. Winners receive a prize of up to £20,000 and a package of support.
This year’s award categories include greener communities, energy access, green skills, natural climate solutions, sustainable cooling and more. Some categories focus on the UK, and others cover work in low- and middle-income countries. Businesses, public bodies and charities can all apply.
Award prize: £20,000
Application deadline: Wednesday 17 March 2021
The growth of regenerative agriculture – sustainable farming that nourishes soil, boosts biodiversity and improves water management – could bring enormous benefits to our climate, and to 500 million smallholder farmers around the world.
These methods protect and build soil carbon stocks, a powerful natural climate solution. They also improve yields and make crops resilient to extreme weather and other challenges, bringing more security to farmers and their families. And they cut the need for expensive and environmentally damaging pesticides and fertilisers.
This award will spotlight areas key to the growth of regenerative agriculture – training and information for farmers, access to finance and technology, support for land rights and fair compensation for prioritising soil health.
Supported by: The DOEN Foundation
This award is no longer open for application.
Award prize: £20,000
Application deadline: Wednesday 17 March 2021
To tackle the climate crisis, we must back the jobs and skills that bring clean energy solutions to life. But the world faces a green skills shortage, particularly in countries where access to clean energy is urgently needed. Currently, just 2% of renewable energy jobs are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Ashden Award for energy access skills will showcase outstanding initiatives widening access to green skills training, an essential step to a low-carbon planet and universal access to sustainable energy. Projects might include innovative approaches to skills development, or programmes and policies supporting excluded groups such as women or indigenous people. Work should empower local communities, and be created and run with their input.
Supported by: The Ashden Trust
Application deadline: Wednesday 3 March 2021
Refugees and displaced people face a desperate battle to access clean energy, and the safety and dignity it brings. About 80% of people living in refugee camps are thought to have minimal access to energy for cooking and heating, and about 90% have no access to electricity. Even limited access to energy comes at an enormous cost – in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, households spend an estimated 24% of their income on energy – compared to a UK household spend of just 4%.
This award will uncover innovation bringing clean, affordable energy to refugees and displaced people around the world. In particular, it will focus on innovative finance and delivery models for bringing clean energy to humanitarian settings. Initiatives should also give displaced people – and host communities – the chance to plan, run and benefit from clean energy programmes.
Supported by: Linbury Trust and the Alan, Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund and a public appeal.
Forest ecosystems are a vital defence against climate catastrophe. But the communities that call them home are under threat – often lacking rights and economic power, and now vulnerable to coronavirus. When the careful stewardship of forests by indigenous people and their neighbours is threatened, we are all at risk.
The Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions will highlight initiatives in the Amazon, Congo Basin and South East Asian rainforest making forest communities more resilient, through improved livelihoods, inclusive business models or improved governance and land rights. It will also spotlight innovation in grassroots resistance, cultural preservation and support for young leaders.
Global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 – universal energy access by 2030 – hang in the balance. 770 million people still go without access to electricity, and in sub-Saharan Africa the number of people with access to electricity is set to fall in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the vital community role that locally led energy access enterprises play, but also the enormous structural challenges they face in accessing finance and support. This award seeks innovation at all levels of the energy access ecosystem that is helping innovators survive, thrive and build resilience in local communities. Innovation could be in the realm of inclusive finance, delivery models, community development and partnerships or broader systemic change. It could be led by enterprises, communities organisation, national or regional governments or NGOs.
Millions of people in low-income neighbourhoods face dangerous heat inside and outside their homes. This brings the risk of mental and physical health problems – and makes it hard or impossible to study, earn a living or even sleep well. In the most extreme cases, night-time temperatures can be up to 8 degrees celsius higher indoors than out. Solutions can be hard to implement – these homes are rarely subject to planning regulations, while conventional air conditioning is too expensive for residents (and further drives the climate crisis).
But affordable non-mechanised cooling solutions exist, such as temperature-lowering roof and wall adaptations, natural ventilation systems, evaporative cooling and the use of plants, trees and structures to provide cooling shade. This award will spotlight the best initiatives alleviating heat stress, and help make solutions accessible and affordable to those in greatest need.
Supported by: K-CEP/ClimateWorks Foundation
Award prize: £10,000
Application deadline: Wednesday 3 March 2021
The UK Government’s aim to reach net-zero-carbon by 2050 is dangerously weak – but even this unambitious target demands huge growth in high-impact climate solutions.
This award will target key areas with the potential to unlock significant carbon savings across the UK – advances in energy systems (particularly heating), the built environment, and industrial innovation supporting a circular economy.
Examples include businesses driving advances in heat pump installation or low-carbon district heating, organisations making progress in affordable retrofit or low-carbon construction, and those reusing materials and equipment or embracing bio-based alternatives. Businesses, charities and public sector organisations are all eligible.
Supported by: Impax Asset Management
Reaching net zero by 2050 demands the upgrading of over a million buildings a year, from schools and hospitals to homes and offices. But there is a serious shortage of the skills needed.
This award will highlight organisations developing green skills in the areas of retrofit and low carbon heat. Applicants could be upskilling existing contractors, retraining workers new to the low carbon sector, or providing initial training for those new to the job market. There will be a particular focus on organisations inspiring people from a variety of backgrounds to join the sector, as well as organisations working to build demand for their trainees so they have jobs to go to. Businesses, charities, community groups and public sector organisations are all eligible.
Supported by: Garfield Weston Foundation
The low carbon transition will demand changes to how we heat our homes, the way we travel and what we eat. Grassroots organisations are well-placed to excite and inspire people to get involved in environmental issues and move to more sustainable ways of living. Community groups also have a unique role to play in shaping and driving local and national climate action.
The award will recognise an initiative that makes climate action relevant to the everyday lives of citizens and the things they care about, with particular attention on engaging beyond typical ‘green audiences’. It will seek to reward work that demonstrates how climate action can cut carbon and tackle social issues (such as poor mental or physical health) at the same time. The issues tackled and approaches used could range from highlighting under–represented voices within the climate sector to art projects inspiring communities into action.
Please note: the application process for our green communities award is slightly different.
Find out how to apply to this award in our FAQs below or watch our video on how to apply for the award here.
Supported by: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Winning an Ashden Award brings a prize of up to £20,000 as well as ongoing development support, from professional mentoring to pro-bono legal help.
We put winners in front of funders, investors, policymakers, journalists and others who know the unique value of an Ashden Award and the strength of our rigorous assessment process.
We’ll create a promotional film about your work and tell your story in mainstream and specialist media, and through our growing digital channels. We’ve helped previous winners gain coverage in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, New Scientist and other leading international publications.
As an award winner, your views, needs and insights will be at the heart of our influential reports, toolkits and events – which shape the views of key climate decision makers.
All winners join the Ashden network – giving them the chance to connect with new partners through masterclasses, investor pitching events and introductions to influential policy makers.
Businesses, NGOs, government organisations, social enterprises and community groups are all eligible. Work must be currently available to clients, customers or beneficiaries.
The two new awards are only open to work in low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank – find a full list here.
For more detail on our eligibility criteria, visit our FAQs below.
Work should be innovative. It might feature new technology, new approaches to marketing and distribution, or a new way of sharing training and skills. It might involve improved financing mechanisms or an innovative business model.
Work should also have the potential to create significant impact. This impact might be a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions, raised incomes, better health, reduced inequality, or a combination of positive outcomes. Impact might be achieved by the growth of the organisation applying, or by the spread of their ideas to other organisations.
Initiatives should boost resilience and be as participatory and democratic as possible – designed and run with input from the people they support, particularly marginalised groups. Applicants should also show good governance and management.
For a full list of our judging criteria, visit our FAQs below.
The deadline for applications for our two new awards is 17 March 2021. These awards are:
Please note that there all remaining awards are now closed.
Winners will be announced in Autumn 2021 (date tbc).
Apply in English using our online application portal here.
For more detail around the full application and judging process, please visit out FAQs below.
"The Ashden win was a big source of hope and positivity in the middle of the COVID pandemic. The award immediately helped us, as we could utilise the prize money to solve urgent gaps, support our entrepreneurs and to lift our heads up and focus towards the future. The Ashden Awards has also created a sense of proudness among our team, and also very important, added credibility with government stakeholders."- Andreas Kölling, Deputy Managing Director
UNDP Yemen, 2020 winner of Humanitarian Energy award, featured in Aljazeera.
Read Article >
SOLShare, 2020 winner of Financial Innovation for Energy Access award, featured in Reuters.
All 2020 winners featured in Smart Cities World.
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.
See here for a list of eligible countries for our two new international awards (extended deadline 17 March).
To be shortlisted and win an Award, all applicants must satisfy these eligibility criteria:
*Please note: applications are now only open for two awards, with a deadline of 17 March 2021:
All other awards are now closed and we are no longer accepting applications.
All applications must be completed and submitted via our online application portal here.
If you would like a preview of the application form, there is a copy of the form here. Note that not all of 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 be completed online for your application to be considered.
If you decide not to complete your application for any reason then you may withdraw by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.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) 20 7410 7023 or email@example.com
Applications are now only open for two awards, with a deadline of 17 March 2021:
This is the final deadline for all stages of the application, including both the initial Expression of Interest and second stage.
The 2021 award categories are:
Energy access skills
Deadline 3 March 2021 – NOW CLOSED
Climate innovation in the UK
Green skills (UK)
Greener communities (UK)
Natural climate solutions
Cooling in informal settlements
Energy access innovation
In 2021, we will be awarding work that fits into the category themes and meets the criteria listed in our FAQS further below. 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 are unsure whether your work fits any of the categories listed below, please contact firstname.lastname@example.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 form, 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 in October 2021 to take part in our Awards Week events in London, UK.
We carry out an initial review of applications to check eligibility and select a longlist (March 2021)
We carry out a detailed assessment of long-listed applications, including requesting further information from applicants (early April 2021)
Judging panels meet to select shortlist (May 2021).
Assessment visits to shortlisted applicants (May and June 2021).
Judging panels meet to select winners (July 2021).
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.
For applicants that do not win, we generally retain their application materials for up to three years. This is to enable ‘fast-track’ re-applications 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.
It is a condition of your entry to the 2021 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, and particularly winners, may be required by Ashden to participate in publicity opportunities such as media interviews.
It is a condition of your entry to the 2021 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 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 longlist, shortlist and winners on specific dates. If you reach the longlisting/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.
Eligible applications will be judged against the following general criteria, and against how well they fit with the theme of the award applied for:
Details of the judging panels will be released on our website once confirmed. The assessment teams include Ashden staff, representatives from funders and knowledge partners, and freelance specialists in specific sectors
You will hear in April 2021 if you have made it through to the longlist. The first judging meetings are then held in May, after which you will hear if you have made it through to the shortlist. You will find out if you will be a winner or a runner up in July, but winners are not publicly announced until shortly before the Awards Ceremony in October.
If your organisation is longlisted, we will get in touch by April to ask for the following, to better understand your work and assure ourselves of your financial viability:
If you are shortlisted, we will get in touch to arrange a visit to assess your work. For applicants based in the UK or Europe, 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 Ashden assessor. Due to the travel restrictions that have occurred because of the coronavirus pandemic, the assessor is likely to be someone more local to your work who is a member of the Ashden network rather than our core London team. In this case, we would also carry out interviews via Zoom with our team in London.
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 may ask you not to share news of your longlisting, shortlisting or award win until a certain date.
As an Ashden Award winner, you will:
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