Arab Sustainability Leaders Honored with TAKREEM Awards

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Written by: Elias Jabbe

The 2015 TAKREEM Awards, held in Dubai on November 14, was notable because it shared the inspirational stories of laureates from throughout the Arab world who have led causes involving sustainability. The award ceremony, founded by veteran Lebanese news reporter Ricardo Karam, was held for the sixth time and made its debut in Dubai after being held in Marrakech last year.

Twitter recap:

During a special event that took place as part of the United Arab Emirates Innovation Week, sustainability was described by a CSR specialist as needs such as energy, education as well as clean water and food being provided to all people.

The individuals and organizations honored at TAKREEM Awards have made many contributions to society in order to make the aforementioned ideal situation a reality. The group of winners (which can be found in this article) included exceptional individuals who have created a ripple of change starting in their cities and extending to the wider MENA region.

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One of those winners was Beirut’s Paul Abi Rached. Stepping on stage to receive the TAKREEM award for Environmental Development and Sustainability on behalf of the Lebanon Eco Movement, Abi Rached exemplified how solidarity created change in his country. Though he has been dedicated to furthering the cause of an environmental NGO he created two decades ago (T.E.R.R.E. Liban), he accepted the award while wearing the hat of President of the Lebanon Eco Movement.

The latter exemplifies how there is power in numbers: it is a collective of over 60 environmental associations in Lebanon that have teamed to create and implement successful initiatives like the “Close Naameh Landfill” and “Trash to Cash” campaigns. It has also been engaged in efforts to preserve Lebanon’s spectacular Mediterranean coast so that more generations to come can enjoy it as it is.

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Abi Rached said that the award is an honor and vindication not only for those who want sustainability to be the status quo in his native Lebanon, but also throughout the Arab world. “I think the TAKREEM award offers huge support to the Lebanon Eco Movement, especially as we continue to face dilemmas revolving around the construction of big dams that hurt our environment and waste management issues,” said Abi Rached. “The government prefers means like landfilling and dumping but the Lebanon Eco Movement believes the best solutions are sorting, recycling and composting as well as clean technologies for solid waste management.” He added that going forward the award will help his team “convince decision makers and stakeholders” to go green and “encourage other environmentalists in the Arab world to continue with their mission to create change in their countries.”

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Awarding Activists
The TAKREEM Awards ceremony also served as a platform to recognize individuals in the nonprofit sector who have been steadfast activists for social justice and CSR over the course of decades. Among the three Lifetime Achievement award winners was the late Mamdouha El-Sayed Bobst, a native of Lebanon who passed away in September 2015 and was represented on stage by her husband and children. She made an impact as a longtime philanthropist and advocate for causes like education in the MENA region and in the United States of America.

More information about her life and charitable efforts around the world are available on the American University of Beirut website.

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Another inspiring award-winner who was recognized for her positive impact on society was Dr. Jumana Odeh, who founded the Ramallah-based Palestinian Happy Child Centre. She was recognized for her initiative which provides affordable high quality healthcare for handicapped Palestinian children the Humanitarian and Civic Services award.

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TV interview with Dr. Jumana Odeh on Dubai One

Rounding out honors in this category was the International Contribution to Arab Society award which shows appreciation for impactful initiatives launched by individuals and organizations not originally from the MENA region.

This year’s winner was Save The Children, which was recognized for its efforts to provide education, support and other resources for children who have been impacted by recent conflicts in countries like Yemen and Syria.

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The award was accepted by Save The Children Programme Policy and Quality Director Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, who has been a leader in the international development sector in the Middle East and Africa over the course of two decades.
She reminded everyone of the importance of every single young person needing the opportunity to lead a life with dignity with a timely quote from a legendary humanitarian.

“In the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’”

Videos of the winners are available on the TAKREEM Awards YouTube page.
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More info on the author: 

Elias Kamal Jabbe (@Elias213) is a Dubai-based marketer, writer and translator. His portfolio of stories about sustainability and entrepreneurship in the MENA region and other regions of the world can be found here.


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