Swiss watchmaker Rolex announced five awards for Young Laureates at a press conference in New Delhi, India, today “to encourage leadership and excellence in the next generation and to acknowledge a surge of applications from young people for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise this year.”
The Young Laureates, who have inspirational projects in Mexico, India, Afghanistan and Paraguay, impressed award judges with their passion and commitment to create positive change in their own communities and beyond, Rolex said in a news statement. Each will receive 50,000 Swiss francs (U.S.$54,000) and a Rolex chronometer.
The 2012 Young Laureates are:
Karina Atkinson, 27, Scotland – is developing a scientific research center at a biologically rich reserve in Paraguay and using community outreach to educate the surrounding impoverished communities about the value of conservation.
Selene Biffi, 30, Italy – is establishing a storytelling school in Afghanistan to preserve the country’s oral heritage, and provide youth with the skills to help NGOs deliver vital health and development information.
Sumit Dagar, 29, India – wants India’s millions of blind people to participate more fully in society by giving them access to the digital revolution through a Braille smartphone developed for their local conditions.
Arun Krishnamurthy, 25, India – is motivating students and community volunteers to restore severely polluted urban lakes in Chennai, before taking on other urban water bodies in the region.
Maritza Morales Casanova, 28, Mexico – is building an environmental park in the Yucatán where children can have fun learning about conservation and become involved themselves in educating other young people on sustainability.
“These young pioneers have an amazing social consciousness, the commitment to help others, and the determination to turn enterprising ideas into reality.”
“These young pioneers have an amazing social consciousness, the commitment to help others, and the determination to turn enterprising ideas into reality. We believe the Rolex Awards will help these inspiring young leaders reach their full potential and propel their inspiring projects forward,” said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. (Read a News Watch interview with Irvin about the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.)
Next Generation of Leaders
Rolex introduced awards for Young Laureates in 2009 to encourage the next generation of leaders. “Under the structure of that programme the next awards were due in 2014. However, due to a five-fold increase in applications from young people under 30 for the longstanding Rolex Awards programme, this year’s Jury was asked to select five Young Laureates. Rolex received a record number of 3,512 applications from 154 countries for the 2012 series,” Rolex said in its statement.
The five Young Laureates are being presented in India alongside the five traditional winners announced earlier this year. Sergei Bereznuk (Russian Federation), Barbara Block (United States of America), Erika Cuéllar (Bolivia), Mark Kendall (Australia) and Aggrey Otieno (Kenya) won Rolex Awards for projects ranging from marine research, revolutionary vaccine technology and tiger conservation.
Rolex is holding the 2012 Awards ceremony in India for the first time in tribute to the enterprising spirit that is driving the country, the news release added. The Laureates receive their awards in New Delhi, while the Young Laureates, who were introduced to the international media today, will be honored in Switzerland next year.
The 2012 winners bring the total to 125 individuals from 42 countries whose spirit of enterprise and concern for the environment and mankind have earned support and recognition from the Rolex Awards in the last 36 years, in areas including science and health, applied technology, exploration and discovery, the environment, and preservation of cultural heritage.
“Laureates are chosen by a Jury of international experts who themselves embody the spirit of enterprise that the Awards seek to promote. The Jury this year included scientists, explorers, conservationists, doctors, educators and entrepreneurs from around the world,” Rolex explained.