Philanthropy-backed multi-million dollar climate awards announce recipients


Alliance magazine


Three leaders in climate change mitigation have today each received $3 million from the Climate Breakthrough Project, a philanthropy-backed initiative that offers annual awards to individuals with cutting-edge climate change mitigation ideas that haven’t yet caught the attention of traditional funders.

This year’s winners are Denise Fairchild from the United States, Kathrin Gutman from Germany, and Sara Jane Ahmed from the Philippines. This is the first year all winners of the award, which has been running since 2016, have been women.

Larger than other climate-focused prizes, the award is given to individuals with cutting-edge climate change mitigation ideas that haven’t yet caught attention from traditional funders. It gives each recipient the funding to jump-start and scale their strategies to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

‘Progress in addressing climate change is far too slow; we need to see transformational change this decade and that requires innovative new ideas. The Climate Breakthrough Project enables philanthropy to make high-risk, high-return investments that unleash the creativity of outstanding teams and individuals to pursue the game-changing strategies that we need in order to win,’ said Walt Reid, Director of the Conservation and Science Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and founding board chair of the Climate Breakthrough Project.

Awardee Fairchild was selected for her work as a veteran leader in environmental justice and efforts to dismantle the root causes of climate change. Gutmann was selected for her work as a seasoned campaigner who plans to take Europe towards a future powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. And Ahmed was picked for the award for her work as a renowned strategist in finance who seeks to develop resilience and investment opportunities in climate-vulnerable nations.

The new awardees join 11 others whose transformational work supported by the Climate Breakthrough Project has achieved critical recognition from their peers and the press, has garnered considerable follow-on funding, and has brought about innovation in climate change mitigation. Many of them were involved in COP26 events and negotiations in Glasgow.

The Climate Breakthrough Project is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the IKEA Foundation, the Quadrature Climate Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Good Energies Foundation.

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