Awards and Prizes

Blue Ventures: Winner of the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

November 17, 2011 - 08:54:25 PM

Video - Website

Blue Ventures (BV), led by Ashoka Fellow Alasdair Harris Ph.D, has developed a high-leverage scalable model that enables impoverished tropical fishing communities in the western Indian Ocean to quickly and dramatically raise their incomes while protecting the biodiversity of their coastal waters through the creation of community-run Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The approach integrates advanced marine conservation science with capacity-building and sound knowledge of fisheries economics in order to provide the necessary skills, incentives, and partnerships that can effect lasting change.

The core of the concept involves determining the recovery period for a fishery that is headed toward collapse, and convincing the fishers to stop fishing periodically to allow the target population to rebound, so that they can benefit from greatly increased fish catches on a sustainable basis. This translates to significantly higher income along the entire supply chain and the preservation of traditional coastal livelihoods as well as marine biodiversity. The recovery method has been scientifically verified and has been met with great local enthusiasm. Within 4 years the strategy has spread to dozens independent fishing villages, which have together created over 100 short term fisheries reserves along several hundred kilometres of Madagascar’s coastline. Management models have since diversified to create the largest community-managed MPA in the entire Indian Ocean.

As a social enterprise BV is imbued with an entrepreneurial community-led spirit that distinguishes it from most other conservation NGOs. Once established these MPAs stand on their economic merits rather than requiring continuous support from outside NGOs. Most of BV’s scientific research is funded by award-winning eco-tourism expeditions and supported by teams of volunteer researchers. As distinct from conventional ‘top down’ outsider approaches to conservation, community engagement and empowerment is the centerpiece of the BV strategy. This has resulted in local citizens taking control of the decisions that affect them and leading grassroots educational efforts that then help other villages replicate the model.

BV is also supporting a full range of community-based economic development initiatives. These include providing educational scholarships for illiterate children, building a reproductive health and family planning clinic now targeting communities in over 50 villages, developing water and sanitation programmes, pioneering alternative sources of income for women through sustainable aquaculture (such as commercial-scale community-managed sea-cucumber and seaweed farming) and developing an ambitious community-owned eco-tourism enterprise. These efforts extend far beyond the typical confines of science-based marine conservation but are critical to ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of BV’s strategy for grassroots conservation. BV’s comprehensive systems approach to conservation assumes that the survival of a natural habitat and the people whose lives depend on it are inseparable.

Already replicating its work in southeast Asia and the Caribbean, and advising governments and communities across several Indian Ocean countries, Blue Ventures’ innovative approach to coastal conservation and development is showing significant potential to improve the lives of millions of people throughout the coastal tropics who rely on threatened marine resources for their daily subsistence.

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Operation Hope: Winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

October 29, 2010 - 11:40:36 AM

Operation HopeThe Winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuler Challenge is Operation Hope, submitted by Allan Savory on Behlalf of the Africa Center for Holistic Management 

"This project demonstrates how to reverse desertification of the world’s savannas and grasslands, thereby contributing enormously to mitigating climate change, biomass burning, drought, flood, drying of rivers and underground waters, disappearing wildlife, massive poverty, social breakdown, violence and genocide."


WEBSITE: Africa Center for Holistic Management

WEBSITE: Savory Institiute

VIDEO: Lecture at Trinity College,Dublin (1hr)

SLIDE SHOW: Project team in the field in Africa

Critical Need Being Addressed

"Viewed holistically biodiversity loss/desertification/climate change are one issue not three. Without reversing desertification, climate change cannot be adequately addressed. This project has demonstrated that livestock can reverse desertification, even during droughts, over the largest areas of the Earth’s land – the grasslands and savannas."

Description of Initiative

"Our work established a previously unsuspected cause of desertification – that humans of all ages and cultures make decisions using the same core decision framework. Flaws in this universal framework made world-wide desertification inevitable. Modifications, explained in "Holistic Management" A New Framework for Decision Making" Savory & Butterfield Second Edition 1999, Island Press, make reversing desertification possible."

"This work, begun in the early 60s gave erratic results. Since 1984 when the decision-making piece of the puzzle fell into place, as long as the process is followed results in restored grasslands have been consistent and can be guaranteed."

"In this particular project ACHM has demonstrated on 6500 acres of grasslands in Zimbabwe the process of reversing desertification. Livestock have increased 400% using holistic planned grazing and we now enjoy open water, water lilies and fish a kilometer above where water has been known before in the dry season. The livestock are integrated with Africa’s big game avoiding competition and wildlife are on the increase. Currently, we can barely keep pace with grass growth even in dry years. This is greatly influencing scientists, NGO’s and pastoralists from all over Africa."  READ MORE »

Biennial World City Prize

September 23, 2009 - 11:07:05 PM

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is a biennial international award to recognise individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the creation of vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban communities around the world. It seeks to recognise individuals and organisations responsible for urban initiatives that display foresight, good governance or innovation in tackling the many urban challenges faced by cities. These urban initiatives can include (but are not limited to) urban planning projects, urban policies and programmes, urban management, as well as applied technology in urban solutions.

These urban initiatives should incorporate principles of sustainable development and demonstrate an ability to bring social, economic and environmental benefits in a holistic way to communities around the world. The Prize will also place an emphasis on practical and cost effective solutions and ideas that can be easily replicated across cities.

Through this prize, Singapore hopes to facilitate the sharing of best practices in urban solutions among cities and spur further innovation in the area of sustainable urban development.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Laureate will be presented with an award certificate, a gold medallion and a cash prize of S$300,000, sponsored by Keppel Corporation.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister, who currently holds the position of Minister Mentor. Mr Lee is instrumental in developing Singapore into a distinctive, clean and green garden city in a short span of a few decades. Under his leadership, the adoption of strategic land use, transport and environmental policies and programmes have helped Singapore to develop into a liveable city with a high quality living environment, in tandem with rapid economic growth.  READ MORE »

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FAB.REcology by Neri Oxman Wins First Earth Awards

September 23, 2009 - 10:24:17 PM

NEW YORK, Jan 13, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- On January 12, MIT fellow Neri Oxman was named winner of the first The Earth Awards. TED Prize winner Cameron Sinclair and Datin Azrene Abdullah presented the award to Oxman in recognition of her groundbreaking project FAB.REcology, which combines principals of biomimicking with the design and construction of built environments. Master of ceremonies Charlie Rose interviewed all ten finalists in Philip Johnson's iconic Four Seasons Restaurant before the winner was named. The event united some of the world's most influential environmentalists, architects and media to form an elite Selection Committee who chose Oxman. Committee members present included Paola Antonelli, Adam Bly, David Buckland, Antonio de la Rua, Scott Hahn, Peter Head, Graham Hill, Michael McDonough, Barry Malebuff, Sergio Palleroni, John Picard, Suzanne Trocme, Dilys Williams and Kenneth Yeang. Organizers conducted a global search for products and concepts that are sustainable, innovative and essential to improving basic quality of life. The winner and finalists will meet with joint venture companies in the hopes of generating commercial opportunities. The Earth Awards are an initiative of ecoStyle Project established by the Malaysian Government, whose support underpins the government's focus on sustainability in its national policy and development plans. The event was jointly produced by NYC Inc., kontentreal, and IMG Fashion, and sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. Representing Malaysia were daughter of the Prime Minister Datin Azrene Abdullah, Princess Myra Madihah, Ambassador Hamidon & Counsel General Zamruni. Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi noted, ‘It's an honor to be part of this event, and I applaud The Earth Awards for fostering a critical dialogue and spirit of innovation in response to the global energy crisis.’ Finalist projects Engaged Offsets, Iluma, and Open Blue Sea Farms were recognized with honorable mention. The top ten also included 12 Climate Entrepreneurs, Earth Markets, Folded Bamboo + Paper Houses, R3, ROSS, and Warning Bulb.

Via: materialecology


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Smart Cities Group at MIT Media Lab Wins 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

May 11, 2009 - 10:06:44 PM

Sustainable Personal Mobility: The CityCar, the RoboScooter, and Mobility-on-Demand Systems

Winning Team:

William J. Mitchell, Ryan Chin, Charles Guan, William Lark, Jr., Michael Chia-Liang Lin, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Arthur Petron, Raul-David "Retro" Poblano, Andres Sevtsuk

Excerpts from the winning entry:

"The gasoline-powered private automobile was one of the greatest inventions of all time. Over the last century, it has radically transformed our daily lives and the forms of our cities. However, it has become increasingly apparent that there are strict limits to scales at which automobile-based personal mobility systems can effectively and responsibly operate, and that we are fast approaching those limits. The proximity of limits shows up in the forms of rapidly growing negative externalities to automobile use – urban congestion, peripheral sprawl and inefficient land-use, excessive energy-use, petroleum dependence and the associated geopolitical/economic problems, local air and noise pollution, and carbon emissions contributing substantially to climate change.

In response to these problems, incremental improvements to automobile and road infrastructure technology are often worth pursuing. However, these technologies are very highly evolved and mature, so there is limited benefit to be derived from further evolution. An evolutionary path to improvement will not have a sufficient impact, within the necessary time frame, on the pressing problems of urban sustainability and global climate change. Instead, a radical reinvention of urban personal mobility systems is required."

"We have designed several new battery-electric vehicles – the CityCar, the RoboScooter, and the GreenWheel electric bicycle – that are utilized within mobility-on-demand systems. All of these vehicles are extremely lightweight, have small footprints, have no tailpipe emissions, and are extremely frugal in energy use. This is accomplished without compromising safety, comfort, convenience, or fun. Mobility-on-demand systems provide racks of these vehicles at closely spaced, convenient locations around an urban service area. Vehicles automatically recharge while they are in these racks. Users walk to the nearest rack, swipe a credit card, pick up a vehicle, drive it to a rack convenient to their destination, and drop it off. These are, in other words, ubiquitously distributed one-way rental systems. These systems are highly efficient in reducing urban congestion, energy use, and carbon emissions. They are synergistic with ubiquitous wireless networking and distributed intelligence, and with solar-friendly, wind-friendly, fuel-cell-friendly smart electrical grids. There are some attractive business models for their introduction, and the political and economic climate is increasingly propitious."

Learn More  about the winning entry

Go to the MIT Smart Cities Website


Buckminster Fuller Challenge: SEE THE MOVIE!

June 24, 2008 - 06:17:23 PM

The good news -- we’re acquiring the right technology.

The bad news -- we’re still doing it for the wrong reasons.

Bottom line: life support systems are critical.

Bucky had it right. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Thats why The Buckminster Fuller Institute is awarding a $100,000 prize each year for comprehensive solutions that radically advance human well being and ecosystem health.




Learn more at

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