Public Release: 

Rolex announces winners of international awards

American scientist recognized for pioneering work to develop low-tech sustainable agriculture in Eritrea

M Booth & Associates

Tokyo, October 22, 2002 - An eminent American biologist working to develop low-tech agriculture in one of the driest places on earth is one of five individuals to be named winners of the 10th series of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise for their groundbreaking projects in the areas of science, the environment, exploration and cultural heritage.

Each winner, or Laureate, will receive $100,000 and a specially inscribed, gold Rolex chronometer tomorrow evening (October 23) at a gala ceremony in Tokyo. An international panel of prominent scientists and explorers selected the five Laureates from nearly 1,400 applicants from 113 countries. This year's prize-winners are:

Gordon Sato - Sustainable Agriculture in Eritrea

American biologist Gordon Sato is spending his retirement helping some of the world's poorest people, in Eritrea, to help themselves. His innovative Manzanar project harnesses the area's intense sunlight and seawater to grow mangrove plants that can be used not only to feed animals, but also to provide a habitat for fish and shellfish. His aim is to help impoverished, coastal communities in this war-torn country to develop a low-tech, sustainable agricultural economy.

Michel André - The Whale Anti-Collision System

French biologist and engineer Michel André has devised a groundbreaking system to warn fast-moving vessels of the presence of whales in areas of concentrated shipping, thereby preventing the frequent collisions that occur in these sea highways. The Whale Anti-Collision System pairs his knowledge of whale vocalization with the latest "passive acoustic" technology to solve a global problem. Using the Canary Islands as a testing ground, André will implement and refine his pioneering method.

José Márcio Ayres - Preserving the World's Biggest Rainforest Corridor

A forest ecologist, José Márcio Ayres today leads an effort to save the biggest protected area of rainforest on the planet. Having already changed the way his fellow Brazilians view conservation, Ayres is proving that the amazing biodiversity of the Amazon is best safeguarded when local people, rather than being part of the problem, become part of the solution.

Dave Irvine-Halliday - Bringing Light to the Developing World

Dave Irvine-Halliday, a Canadian electrical engineer, realized that a single 0.1-watt, white-light emitting diode supplies enough light for a child living in a remote area with no electricity to read by. The simple but revolutionary technology already supplied to homes in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka by his Light Up The World Foundation can light an entire rural village with less energy than that used by a single, conventional, 100-watt light bulb.

Lindy Rodwell - Preserving Cranes in Africa

Zoologist Lindy Rodwell has devoted the past 11 years to preserving cranes, especially the wattled crane that is critically endangered in her native South Africa. Following the birds' distribution across Africa, Rodwell is expanding her conservation network, aiming to combine the efforts of volunteers and experts in the 11 "wattled crane states" of central and southern Africa, while protecting the wetlands on which cranes and many people depend.

"Despite the diversity inherent in the Rolex Awards, the Laureates all have in common the spirit of enterprise that characterizes the program," said Mr. Patrick Heiniger, chief executive officer of Rolex S.A. and chairman of the Selection Committee. "Whether saving whales or endangered birds, improving living standards in remote villages, safeguarding our precious rainforests, or developing low-tech agricultural methods in one of the world's most impoverished countries, these five individuals have demonstrated their intent to improve our planet and the human condition - the underlying objective of the Awards."


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