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The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has launched a memorial award to recognise young renewable energy champions in honour of its late CEO Steve Sawyer, REvolutionaries: The Steve Sawyer Memorial Award.

The award will honour Steve’s life mission to pioneer the global energy transition, recognising young leaders in the renewable energy sector in developing countries.

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Reflecting Sawyer’s values, the award seeks to empower young people working on the frontiers of the renewable energy revolution in their respective countries.

The annual award will have a different regional focus for each programme cycle. In 2020, the programme will focus on clean energy leaders in Africa, with candidates either working in or targeting their work to one or several countries in Africa.

The winner will receive a prize that seeks to empower the recipient to further their work in driving the clean energy revolution.

The prize package includes a monetary prize, funded travel to attend a regional GWEC event, as well as opportunities to promote the recipient’s thought leadership to a global network.

Renewable energy champions

Steve Sawyer. Source: GWEC

Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said: “Steve was a pioneer in many areas, not least in recognising the critical importance of climate change and the big role wind energy was going to play in reducing global CO2 emissions. Throughout his life he showed incredible courage and commitment in his campaigning work and was a champion of young people – particularly women – who were willing to step up, get involved in the energy transition and become leaders.

“We hope this award will help a new generation of renewable energy champions to come forward and continue Steve’s work.”

Kelly Rigg, Steve’s wife and director of the Varda Group environmental consultancy, commented: “Steve always had an eye for talent, and he particularly admired people who weren’t afraid to shake up the status quo. And of course shaking up the prevailing fossil-fuelled energy system was at the top of his list for so many years.

“Nothing gave him more hope than seeing young people he’d mentored make their mark on the world. He would have been incredibly proud to see donations made in his name going to rising stars in renewables, and particularly those coming from developing countries that have so much potential to choose a more resilient energy future.”

Sawyer had a distinguished career in environmental and climate activism. During his tenure at Greenpeace International, he survived the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior ship while campaigning against nuclear testing in French Polynesia.

He became GWEC’s first Secretary General in 2000, and contributed significantly to developing the wind industry in several countries, including India, China, Brazil and South Africa. Sawyer remained with GWEC until his passing in July 2019.

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