Kaxu Solar One
Winners of 2017 UN Climate Solutions Awards

Press Release UNFCCC

  • Winners of 2017 UN Climate Solutions Awards Announced

(Berlin, Germany, 12 October 2017) – Nineteen ground-breaking initiatives from around the world were announced today as recipients of the United Nations ‘Momentum for Change’ Climate Solutions Award.


The winners underline how Global Climate Action, in support of governments’ national plans, is accelerating two years after the Paris Agreement was universally adopted.


Representatives from the following three winning activities spoke about their innovative solutions at a special event in Berlin, Germany, this morning:

  • A women-led, eco-fashion business that addresses climate change by recycling fabric waste to produce clothing collections, while providing jobs for disadvantaged female workers;
  • A partnership between TerraCylce, SUEZ, and Procter & Gamble that removes plastic from beaches and uses it to create shampoo bottles made with 25% of the reclaimed beach plastic;
  • The leading British retailer Marks & Spencer, who implemented a sustainable strategy that allowed them to achieve carbon neutrality for worldwide operations in 2014.


Other winners include a financial corporation in South Africa that leveraged private-sector capital to develop and construct the world’s first large-scale concentrated solar power plant; a credit card company in South Korea where users are rewarded with points when they act sustainably; and, an easy-to-use ICT tool to help farmers make climate-smart decisions in Colombia and Honduras.


Further winners include the first winery in California to operate on 100% renewable energy, and a company that brings solar energy to remote medical centers in Africa, which in turn helps save lives during childbirth.


The Momentum for Change initiative, spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat, shines light on some of the most innovative, scalable and practical examples of what people across the globe are doing to combat climate change.


Selected initiatives, called ‘Lighthouse Activities,’ demonstrate the unprecedented amount of climate action happening around the world. Today’s announcement is part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.


Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “I want to congratulate this year’s award winners. Their passion, creativity and positive impacts on the ground are extraordinary, real-world examples of how the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the wider SDGs is happening at all scales, across all countries and across all sectors of society.


“We know that to meet our shared goals, ambition needs to be raised over the years and decades to come. These Lighthouse Activities provide direct inspiration to others—from developed and developing countries alike—to be agents of change that can catalyze communities and countries go further, faster, together,” she added.


The 19 winning activities fall within one of Momentum for Change’s five focus areas: Women for Results, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment, ICT Solutions, Planetary Health, and Climate Neutral Now. All 19 activities will be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany (6 November to 17 November 2017).


The 2017 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities are:

Women for Results

  • From Waste to Wow | Italy: QUID, a woman-led, eco-fashion social enterprise, addresses climate change by recycling high-quality fabric waste from fashion companies to produce women’s clothing collections.
  • More Corals = More Fish | Belize: Women are offered grant-funded or subsidized training programs, often led by women divers, on marine tourism and lagoon ecology to restore coral reef habitats.
  • Sustainable Agriculture with Gender Inclusion and Participation in Quito, Ecuador | Ecuador: Women are taught sustainable food production through agricultural measures that increase food security, reduce carbon emissions, and shrink the city´s ecological footprint.
  • Building Resilient Livelihoods | Sudan: This project distributes agricultural packages to women farmers, including hands-on training in conservation agricultural techniques, and access to finance and markets.

Financing for Climate Friendly Investment

  • Kaxu Solar One | South Africa: The International Finance Corporation leveraged private-sector capital to develop and construct the world’s first large-scale concentrated solar power plant, using blended funding to close funding gaps and to deliver positive results to stakeholders.
  • Green Finance and The Aggregation of Swedish Local Government Investment Projects | Sweden: Kommuninvest’s Green Bond Framework aggregates local and regional governments’ funding needs that adhere to a set of pre-determined sustainability criteria to offer green loans and work towards the overarching goal of a climate-neutral society.
  • Partnerships to Advance Climate Risk Insurance Approaches | Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia: The Munich Climate Insurance Initiative designed and implemented a parametric index-based microinsurance product to cover extreme weather damage in the Caribbean in partnership with social aggregators like credit unions, farmers’ cooperatives and associations.

ICT Solutions

  • ICTs For Small-Scale Farmers: A Game Changing Approach to Climate Smart Agriculture in Latin America | Colombia and Honduras: This easy-to-use ICT tool collects, collates, and analyzes weather data to inform farmers in advance on how to adjust their agricultural practices to ensure maximum crop-yield and thus food security.
  • | Canada: Developed by the Memorial University of Newfoundland, this tool helps Inuit (indigenous people) adapt to thinning sea-ice by providing information to aid in the planning of safe routes on the ice, thus reducing travel risks.
  • Green Credit Card | South Korea: Credit card users are rewarded with points that are converted into cash or can be donated to environmental funds when they buy ecological products, use public transport, make paper-less transactions, and consume less electricity, water, and gas.
  • Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Biodiversity (CLIMB)  | France, Italy, and Switzerland: A local scientific NGO has built an innovative Biodiversity and Climate Change Observatory on Mont-Blanc to measure and report the impact of climate change in the region, using 70 tailor-made temperature stations, distant-monitoring software, and connected webcams and camera traps.


 Planetary Health

  • Restoring Peatlands in Russia | Russia: This project, led by Wetlands International and supported by German and Russian government ministries, is spearheading the restoration of peatlands in Russia, and reducing the incidence of fires in peatland areas and the resulting CO2 emissions and smoke particulates.
  • Cleaning our Oceans of Plastic, Solving Extreme Poverty and Reducing Emissions of Global Supply Chains | Haiti, Southeast Asia: People in Haiti bring recycled plastic to one of 20 recycling markets, where it is exchanged for cash or critical essentials, such as a child’s school tuition. Removing plastic from waterways also helps stop the spread of some tropical diseases by eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitos.
  • Reclaiming Global Waterways and Beaches | France: TerraCycle and Procter & Gamble have partnered to manufacture the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from “beach plastic” waste for the shampoo brand Head & Shoulders. The removal of degrading plastic from waterways and beaches delivers improved health for the fish, birds, animals and humans who rely on the ocean for food.
  • Sustainable Energy for Safe Childbirth | Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Nepal: We Care Solar saves lives in childbirth by bringing solar power to remote, off-grid, and under-resourced medical centers. This initiative saves lives, as health workers no longer struggle to provide life-saving care with inadequate and dangerous lighting, such as kerosene lanterns, candles, and diesel fuel generators.

Climate Neutral Now

  • Plan A Carbon Reduction | United Kingdom: Leading British retailer Marks & Spencer started their ‘Plan A’ sustainable strategy in 2007. In 2012, they became carbon neutral in the UK and Ireland, which was further extended to all Marks & Spencer operations worldwide in 2014.
  • Net Positive Wine | United States of America: Fetzer Vineyards has been leading the wine industry in sustainable practices for decades, becoming the first true Zero Waste certified wine company in the world, and the first winery in California to operate on 100% renewable energy.
  • Aviva's Climate Neutral Plan | United Kingdom: In 2006, Aviva became the first global insurance group to offset its entire operational emissions, and over the 10 years since Aviva became carbon neutral, it has saved 1.3 million tonnes of CO2e emissions through carbon finance projects.
  • Zero Carbon Police Force | United Arab Emirates: Dubai Police is measuring and reducing its emissions, with a goal to become carbon neutral by 2020 – the first police force to achieve this feat globally.


The 2017 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which is implemented with the support of the The Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), and Masdar’s Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy Forum (WiSER) initiative.

“The Paris Climate Change Agreement and the newly-established Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action shows us that we must all go further and faster in delivering climate action before 2020,” said Teresa Ribera, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel. “Now in its sixth year, the Momentum for Change initiative, along with the new 2017 Lighthouse Activities, is perfectly positioned to inspire fast and effective action that is replicable, scalable, and practical. Lighthouse Activities ensure multiple approaches to deliver on climate protection, environmental consciousness, sustainability and social responsibility, designed by companies, organizations and governments big and small alike. With over 460 applications this year, we are reminded of the global prevalence of climate action, especially in terms of quality solutions.”



Please note: A special event with UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and three of the 2017 Lighthouse Activity winners takes place today 12 October from 11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Hertie School of Governance, Friedrichstraße 180, Berlin, Germany.



Digital assets:

Photos, fact sheets and other assets are available for download on this Trello Board


For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UN Climate Change Spokesperson

nnuttall@unfccc.int | +49 228 815 1400 or +49 152 0168 4831 (mobile)


Sarah Marchildon, UN Climate Change Team Lead, Momentum for Change

smarchildon@unfccc.int | +49 228 815 1065