2016 Laureates

Afroz Shah

Environmental Organizer

Inspiration and Action

Afroz Shah, a young Indian lawyer from Mumbai, is synonymous with the world’s largest beach clean-up project.

In October 2015, Shah and his neighbor Harbansh Mathur, an 84-year-old who has since passed away, were frustrated with the piles of decomposing waste that had washed up and completely overwhelmed the city’s Versova beach. Determined to do something about it, the pair started cleaning up the beach themselves, one piece of rubbish at a time.


Berta Cáceres

Indigenous Rights Activist

Inspiration and Action

Before her murder, Berta Cáceres threw her life into a tireless grassroots struggle for the rights of marginalized and poverty-stricken indigenous peoples in her native Honduras.

Her death in early 2016, aged 44, sparked an international outcry at the unacceptable levels of violence and intimidation facing environmental activists in many countries around the world.


José Sarukhán Kermez

Research Biologist

Lifetime Achievement

José Sarukhán Kermez has spent a lifetime not just leading students, fellow researchers and politicians to a greater understanding of biological diversity and its value – he has pioneered ways to translate that insight into action.

Sarukhán, 76, persuaded the Mexican government to establish a permanent top-level commission on biodiversity. The commission has bridged the traditional barriers between academic disciplines, government departments and social interest groups.


Leyla Acaroglu

Sustainability Innovator

Science and Innovation

Leyla Acaroglu instigates positive environmental and social change through innovation. A New York-based Australian designer, social scientist, and sustainability expert, she is internationally recognized as a leader in the use of disruptive design across sustainability and educational initiatives. Her mainstage TED Talk has collected over one million views, making it one of the most watched TED Talks on sustainability.


Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen)

Solar Energy

Entrepreneurial Vision

Masen, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, spearheads the first large-scale capture of solar energy in the Middle East and North Africa, a bold initiative to make solar power affordable and reduce the country’s dependence on high-carbon imports.


Paul Kagame

President of Rwanda

Policy Leadership

Paul Kagame is the current President of Rwanda having taken office in 2000.

President Kagame has prioritised national development, launching a programme to develop Rwanda as a middle income country by 2020. As of 2014, the country is developing strongly on key indicators, including health care and education: Rwanda’s maternal mortality rate dropped 55% between 2000-2010; secondary school enrolment more than doubled from 2006-2012. Annual growth between 2000 and 2014 averaged 8% per year and one million Rwandans have been lifted out of poverty.