Rewarding Initiative: Challenges, Prizes, Awards:

2006 WTN Nominations:
  • Invitation to join us

    2005 WTN Nominations:
  • Monderman Nomination for Individual Award
  • City of Seoul Nomination for Team Award

    2004 Nominations:
  • City of Stockholm, Partnerships for Sustainable Cities
  • Mayor Ken Livingstone, City of London

  • Stockholm Partnerships for Sustainable Cities
  • Bogota Sustainable Mobility Prize
  • International Walk to School program
  • Awarding Carsharing Innovation

  • The No-Fault, Non-Bureaucratic, No-Brainer, Grassroots Grant Program
  • The proposal

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  • Invitation to Dialogue

    Like many other active admirers and supporters of socio-technical initiatives that seek to advance the sustainability and social justice agenda anywhere in the world in meaningful ways, we have long been enthusiastic proponents of the idea of high profile international recognition of outstanding accomplishment for these people and places. Happily to say, we are of course not alone in this. However, since this is an increasingly popular topic, both for discussion and in actual practice, we may do well to indicate here what we regard as being among the most important qualities that such projects and accomplishments should have in order to achieve their greatest impacts.

    Preamble: What Should an International Prize Be Trying to Do

    There are basically a handful of "pillars" of our prize philosophy which we set out here in the hope that we may somehow "infect" others with these same values. In brief and in order, they touch on matters of social justice, local initiative, robustness, potential for self-replication, they way they handle time, and their potential for making good things better yet.

    Social Justice: The first pillar of our award philosophy is a firm belief that the final crux of any such prize worth its name must be its contribution to social justice, both in the place where the concept has been successfully demonstrated but also its potential for achieving such impacts in other places where it might be replicated. It will be important to single out initiatives that have more than proportionate positive impacts on the lives of those people for whom life is clearly harder in many respects: because their incomes are very low, their days hard, their health not what it might be, their education under par, their social integration and economic opportunities not fully assured. Any project which does not make a fierce effort to ensure that these less favored elements of society are not major beneficiaries of the new arrangements is not, in our view, worthy of consideration for such a prize.

    Local Initiative: Secondly, we consider it absolutely vital that any such accomplishment be above all based on local initiative, inputs and partnerships. If the project is simply parachuted on a basically passive place and driven by external experts, finance and... values, then we cannot give it our vote.

    Robustness: The strong development initiative is one that needs a minimum of hand-holding and external funding once it has got up and running. Anyone can keep a project alive if the money keeps on flowing in from external sources. But the genius of accomplishment is to create strucutures of support that will permit the pojrect to keep on going once the orignal infusin of star-up funding has come to an end.

    Replication Potential: Fourth, to our mind the initiatives that deserve to be singled out in this way are those which have a definite 'self-replicating" potential. By this we mean concepts or approaches which are so demonstrably superior to prevailing practices that they lend themselves to rapid replication elsewhere. This, in fact, is the real acid test of success.

    To make sure that we get our precise point across hers, we would like to contrast the kinds of approaches we have in mind for such recognition from some of the others that often get media attention and large gobs of public funding. The first are those projects or approaches which attain their success as a result of "throwing dollars at the problem". By this we mean those projects which owe their accomplishments above all to a considerable and continuing flow of public funding, and which therefore cannot be thought of as "naturally self-replicating". Again, in this regard, we need perhaps to point out that no matter how admirable may be the accomplishments of such privileged enclave projects, given their special financial character they probably offer little if anything to most of the people and places on this planet who simply do not have money to throw at their problems, at least not on that scale.

    Sense of Time: The next pillar has to do with a mature handling of the time vector. Getting anything of value accomplished in a complex, in many ways fundamentally inertial social and human environment (that being the nature of man), requires in the final analysis not so much a quick fix or once-off solution as a process, which may be long, laborious and problematical. The advantage of a process that spins out over of time is that it gives us the possibility to learn and adapt, to learn from failure as well as success, and to "grow" organic solutions packages of many parts and with many people and groups behind them.

    Reenforcement:Finally, we would like to stress our firm belief that one of the goals of such a high profile reward should be, not only to draw the attention to the world of this great way of doing things -- but also to provide support for all those in the city or group that has won the award to stride ahead and do better yet. Success in these challenges is never easy, and the achievement is inevitably 'work in progress'. So if we can use these international awards to encourage and support the recipients in their quest to do better yet, than we will have make a final, very important contribution.

    (Rest of page to be updated. See links above for latest.)

    The first collective international action of our New Mobility Agenda group was in 2000 - when several hundred of us got together to support the Mayor of Bogota, Enrique Peñalosa in his proposed project for a Car Free Day which he was intending to use as a mechanism to develop increased public interest in and support for an entirely different approach to sustainable mobility in that city of seven million inhabitants living under very trying circumstances at two thousand six hundred meters, as they put it, "closer to the stars". To do this we created and publicized an instrument that we called the Bogotá Car Free Day International Guestbook which you can examine here for content and the names of those who joined this international peer support group. This cooperative group support initiative captured extensive media attention both in Colombia and world wide and served as one more small thing to support this great and still on-going transformation effort.

    And as many of you know, one result was we were jointly awarded the Stockholm Prize for the Environment with the City of Bogota, for a project that kept some 850,000 cars off the road for a day during which the citizens of Bogota got together to develop a broad shared view of what they wanted their city to look like. This cooperative, independent and unfunded international/local partnership was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Challenge Prize for the Environment in June 2001.

    This in turn led to the Car Free City Referendum - Vote Bogota 2000. On Sunday, the 29th of October 2000 the City of Bogota called what was without any doubt the most revolutionary and far reaching public consultations to date anywhere in the world to gain long-term public support for an entirely new transport policy and delivery system for their city. The Bogota Project, which is at the base of the referendum called for the creation of a permanent, iron-clad legal framework in support of a phased long term program of massive car reductions in the city, supported by a path breaking city-wide restructuring program already well underway and getting visible results. This program of the city once again received the collective support of our group, which you can see here. The results were extraordinary: two thirds of the city's citizens voted to create this long term framework for a fifteen year transition to a city with a hugely reduced role for private cars and a correspondingly huge and innovative push to alternative forms of mobility.

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    Awarding Carsharing Innovation

    As it happens I happen to believe that with some eight hundred million vehicles crowding our small planet, many of which spend 95% of them time taking up space on the streets of our cities, we have a pretty good sustainability target here. What we call carsharing is nothing other simply than an alternative form of car ownership and use, which is far more efficient than the prevailing one owner/driver/passenger pattern that all too many of us have come to use. (If you want a quick and interesting look into what carsharing is all about, you can check out the World Carshare Consortium and in ten minutes you will know more than just about anyone in your city.)

    So if this is such a good idea, in instances in which it actually can be made to work then it would seem to be a good idea to seek out ways to give them strong recognition and visibility. And one way to do just this is via some of these international awards programs.

    Thus, a group of my colleagues and I have managed to make use of some leverage to do just this in two cases: Among the Prizes awarded in Stockholm was a 'class award' for carsharing, which in a first instance was awarded to the leading Swedish program (at the time), with the understanding that the actual prize, a very attractive sculpture made out of recycled glass, was to be shared among other carsharing operations world wide, with the award to move to a new home each year and with appropriate media support. (Incidentally, we took the same approach with the International Walk to School Program, in which the Prize has already traveled across the Atlantic and is shortly destined to move across the Pacific to another proud holder).

    I also was able to make use of my personal leverage as a former winner of the World Technology Network Environment and Technology Award, to nominate no less than three carsharing organizations for a joint prize in 2003, for which they were among the Finalists. One more good word and exposure for a great idea of which we will be seeing a lot more in the future. (And perhaps s bit more quickly and even a bit better, because of this kind of creative networking support).

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    International Walk to School Award from Stockholm Partnerships

    In June 2002, the International Walk to School program received one fo the dozen finalist awards from the Stockholm Partnership for Sustainable Cities. The award was made by the internaiontal jury with a contingency -- namely that it was to be treated as a special 'travelling award' and was to be shared over the years by the many international partners that have got together to make that fine rpgoram work. The recpients have honored their mandate and word, as the following update note of 18 October 2004 amply attests.

    -----Original Message-----
    Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 To:
    Subject: Stockholm Partnerships: Traveling Award

    Hi Eric

    Here's a resume of what we've done with the Stockholm Award so far. In each country, representatives use the Award to court the media, both local and national, to promote sustainable travel (WTS). As there are something like 40 countries involved now, I believe the Stockholm "Trophy" will cover many tens of thousands of miles (about 35,000 miles already)

    You might also like to know, it has gathered various affectionate names along the way. In the UK, it was known as the "Swedish Fruit Gum", in the USA and Canada it was called the "Crystal Puck".

    Best wishes



    This special award is making its way around the world to spend time in each of the countries involved in the International Walk to School effort.

    In June 2002, the award was presented by The King of Sweden to Robert Smith, Head of Road Safety and Sustainable School Travel, Dorset County Council in the UK who chairs the International Walk To School Committee. The award was passed between the agencies responsible for managing the project in the UK, who used it to raise the profile of walking to school in the UK.

    In the spring of 2003 at the WALK21 Conference in Portland, Oregon, it was handed over by Robert Smith, representing the UK, to Lauren Marchetti, (Deputy Director of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre, UNC) representing the Partnership for a Walkable America. Again, opportunities were taken to promote walking to school via media coverage.

    In October 2003, the Stockholm award was brought to Canada by Lauren Marchetti and presented at a wonderful ceremony involving students, parents and staff at Carleton Heights Public School in Ottawa, Canada. Jacky Kennedy, Programme Manager, Active and Safe Routes To School, facilitated the handover. Children role played the original presentation in Stockholm, with youngsters taking the parts of the King of Sweden, Robert Smith and dressed in national costumes. The award was then passed from Carleton Heights Public School to Morton Way Public School in Brampton, Ontario in February, where the award presentation was covered in their local paper. It then moved west to the Way to Go! School Program in British Columbia in April where it resided at a school in Vancouver, ready for transfer to the Swiss representatives at the Walk 21 conference held in Copenhagen in May 2004.

    Alain Rouiller (Swiss representative) was handed the Award by Jacky Kennedy during a special Walk to School workshop session at the conference. Swiss students participate in their version of the International Walk To School initiative called Journée Internationale "A pied à l'école ".

    The Stockholm Award will remain in Switzerland until September 2005 when the Walk 21 conference will be held in Zurich. Another handover will then take place in Zurich to representatives from another country (possibly Australia or New Zealand).

    This award represents our shared vision of possibility - that children everywhere can have the choice of walking freely and safely to school.

    Some Useful Prize Links

    Here is a first set of prize links which we set before you as food for thought. We intend to revise and expand this listing as we go along, all while trying to see if we can learn and profit from their experience. Have any others for us?

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