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Subjects: Environmental, Social, and Governance Criteria, Contests/Awards

As Part of Its Perpetual Planet Initiative, Rolex Announces the Five Laureates of the 2023 Rolex Awards for Enterprise

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rolex is pleased to announce its 2023 Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise; five pioneers whose ambitious projects will help to improve lives while protecting the planet for future generations.

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise were set up in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of the world's first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster. Through the programme, the company supports exceptional individuals with innovative projects that improve our knowledge of the world, protect the environment, help preserve habitats and species and improve human well-being.

Intended to be a one-off celebration, the Awards drew such international attention that Rolex transformed them into a biennial programme that has, in 48 years since its creation, supported 160 Laureates, whose projects have had a profound impact across 65 countries.

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise are part of Rolex's Perpetual Planet Initiative and embody the initiative's intricate values. For nearly a century, Rolex has been an active supporter of pioneering explorers and individuals who have pushed back the boundaries of human endeavour to shed light on the natural world. The brand reinforced its longstanding commitment to the planet by launching the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative in 2019. The initiative supports individuals and organizations that use science and technology to understand the world's environmental challenges and devise solutions that will restore balance to our ecosystems.


The Awards are given to projects focusing on either the environment; science and health; applied technology; cultural heritage; and exploration.

The projects are judged on their originality and the impact they could have on the world at large, as well as on the candidates' spirit of enterprise.

Five Laureates are chosen every two years. They each receive funding to implement their project and become a member of the Rolex Laureates network, many of whom still collaborate today.

The 2023 Laureates have been selected by a panel of ten world-renowned experts and leaders in their field. From providing clean water in Kenya to protecting the mountainous forests of the Andes, the 2023 Laureates and their respective projects, highlight the brand's commitment to a Perpetual Planet.


Constantino Aucca Chutas

The biologist will be scaling up his community-centred forest ecosystem restoration and protection programme in the high Andes. He founded Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) in 2000 and co-founded Acción Andina in 2018, and has planted 4.5 million trees, engaged more than 60 local communities, and created 16 protected areas in the mountains across Peru and other high Andean countries.

Beth Koigi

The young Kenyan social entrepreneur will be providing solar- powered generators harvesting water from air to 3,000 people in 10 communities who are in need of clean water resources. Since co-founding her start-up in 2017, Koigi's atmospheric water generators are producing over 200,000 litres of clean water per month to over 1,900 people. The potential impact of this innovative technology is enormous; in Koigi's native Kenya half the population lack access to clean drinking water while, according to the UN, half the world's population could be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.

Inza Koné

The primatologist will be protecting a richly biodiverse forest in Côte d'Ivoire while safeguarding its endangered fauna and reducing poverty in the area. After years of work with people in the area, Koné's efforts resulted in the Tanoé-Ehy Forest becoming a community-managed natural reserve in 2021. The Rolex Award will enable Koné to continue preserving its outstanding biodiversity, supporting community management and encouraging sustainable livelihoods for people in the region.

Denica Riadini-Flesch

The social entrepreneur will be expanding her regenerative farm-to-closet clothing supply chain, strengthening women's empowerment and preserving local Indonesian cultures. After a successful academic career as an economist, Riadini-Flesch founded SukkhaCitta, working with rural craftswomen in Indonesia to provide them with business skills, environmental stewardship education, and customers in 32 countries.

Liu Shaochuang

The remote sensing specialist will be studying wild camels' habitats in view of creating two new conservation reserves to save the last remaining wild herds. Drawing on his scientific expertise, having played a key role in developing China's Lunar and Mars rovers, Liu Shaochuang will satellite track wild camels in the Gobi Desert regions of China and Mongolia to support their future conservation.


The Jury of the 2023 Rolex Awards for Enterprise was comprised of 10 exceptional individuals, all leaders in their respective fields. This year's jury members were:

Dr Antonio Arantes, a specialist in cultural heritage recognized for his contributions to Brazilian anthropology.

Dr Helen Czerski, a physicist, oceanographer, and award- winning communicator.

Dr Katherine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy and 2019 United Nations' Champion of the Earth.

Ed Viesturs, one of America's foremost high-altitude mountaineers and best-selling author.

Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Zimbabwean-born social entrepreneur and African Philanthropist of the Year.

Dr Indira Chakravarty, Indian public health specialist and recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri civilian award.

Dr Carlos M. Duarte, an influential climate and marine scientist, and a Distinguished Professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Christine Loh, a politician, and sustainability advocate at the forefront of public policy in Hong Kong.

Gonzalo Muñoz, a world-leading expert on environmental management.

Dr Brian P. Schmidt, a Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics and dedicated climate change advocate.

The Rolex Awards focus on the environment as well as on people. Over 30 ecosystems and 50 endangered species have been protected by the Laureates' projects so far. 2019 Laureate Emma Camp, for example, is finding ways to restore and protect damaged coral reefs by studying the behaviour and genetics of "ultra- tough coral survivors". She has discovered that these corals can grow in conditions previously thought to be deadly to them.

Past Laureates have also implemented innovative technological projects, such as 2021 Laureate Felix Brooks-Church's "dosifiers", which he has used to provide vital micro-nutrients to five million people throughout Tanzania. Making a real change for these communities in need.

Rolex not only supports these incredible individuals and projects, but its network has also brought together Laureates for over 45 years. For example, wildlife biologist Rodney Jackson, who became a Rolex Awards Laureate in 1981, has spent his career tracking the highly elusive and endangered snow leopard and promoting community-based conservation. He is now mentoring 2021 Laureate Rinzin Phunjok Lama, a young Nepalese ecologist who works in the Himalayas to help local communities become frontline wildlife conservationists, including for snow leopards. Rolex has also brought together Perpetual Planet Initiative partner Under the Pole, an organisation of underwater scientists and explorers, with deep-diving expert and 2021 Rolex Awards Laureate Luiz Rocha. Under The Pole and Rocha are now combining forces to study the enigmatic marine animal forests of the mesophotic zone, 30 to 150 metres below sea level.

Whether by passing on knowledge to a new generation of Laureates or bringing together complimentary areas of expertise, this one-of-a-kind group builds on each other's skills and expertise to generate more impact and try to find solutions to our Planet's environmental issues.

Brian Schmidt

A specific celebration of each of the Laureates will be held in 2024, in their respective region.


For nearly a century, Rolex has supported pioneering explorers pushing back the boundaries of human endeavour. The company has moved from championing exploration for the sake of discovery to protecting the planet, committing for the long term to support individuals and organizations using science to understand and devise solutions to today's environmental challenges.

This engagement was reinforced with the launch of the Perpetual Planet Initiative in 2019, which includes the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, as well as long-standing partnerships such as Mission Blue and the National Geographic Society, or younger organizations such as Coral Gardeners, among a pool of over 30 partners.

As one of the pillars of the Perpetual Planet Initiative, the Rolex Awards continue to expand their portfolio, which includes projects from Grégoire Courtine's groundbreaking technologies to treat spinal cord injury, to Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's work with indigenous people to map natural resources and prevent climate conflicts in the Sahel.

Rolex also supports organizations and initiatives fostering the next generations of explorers, scientists and conservationists through scholarships and grants, such as Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and The Rolex Explorers Club Grants.


rolex.org newsroom.rolex.com


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