Press Release

Solar Sister, 1 Million Women Crowned As Winners of Solution Search

Winners of the Global Contest Chosen from Pool of 200 Entrants Working to Shift Individuals’ Behavior to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(March 20, 2019 – Washington, DC) – Solution Search, a global contest to identify, reward, and spotlight innovative climate solutions, has crowned Solar Sister and 1 Million Women as the grand prize winners. Solar Sister, an initiative to empower sub-Saharan women as renewable energy entrepreneurs, won the Judges’ Choice award. 1 Million Women, an Australian-based organization bringing women together to reduce energy usage, won the People’s Choice award. Both winners will receive a $25,000 prize. The winners were announced on March 19 during BE.Hive, a summit exploring behavioral solutions to climate change, held at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC.

The Judges’ Choice winner, Solar Sister, empowers African women with economic opportunity, training, market access and peer support to earn a livelihood by delivering life-transforming clean energy access to underserved communities. Rooted in local women’s enterprise and the proven power of social trust networks, Solar Sister has built a network of 3,000 women entrepreneurs providing affordable solar lighting, connectivity, and clean cooking solutions to over 1.3 million people.

“I’m so grateful on behalf of women entrepreneurs in Tanzania and Nigeria. It will help us double our impact to reach millions of African women,” said Fatma Muzo, who accepted the award on behalf of Solar Sister. “Climate change needs women.”

The People’s Choice winner, 1 Million Women, is a global movement of women building a lifestyle revolution to fight the climate crisis. The organization recognizes that women make 85 percent of consumer decisions that affect a household’s carbon footprint. As the largest movement in Australia acting on climate change, 1 Million Women empowers women and girls to cut carbon pollution in their everyday life by motivating behaviors that minimize food waste, reduce overconsumption, and boost home energy savings.

“Climate change needs us all. It needs countries, it needs governments, it needs cities, it needs communities, it needs households, and it needs individuals. And that piece on how you live with the least impact on the planet through everything you do, through every choice you make, through every dollar you spend is the piece that 1 Million Women focuses on. And our goal is to reach millions and millions of women around the world. We’re building a lifestyle revolution so please jump on board!” said Natalie Isaacs, founder of 1 Milion Women.

This year’s Solution Search contest was sponsored by Rare, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic Society, the UN Development Programme, and World Wildlife Fund. The contest focused on finding organizations using innovative approaches for helping consumers adopt climate-friendly behaviors. The Judge’s Choice winner was determined by a panel comprised of climate experts, behavioral researchers, conservationists, environmental advocates, and business leaders. The People’s Choice winner was determined by an online vote, open to the public.

“Solutions for cutting greenhouse gas emissions are out there. Getting people to adopt them is the real challenge. The Solution Search winners give us reason to be hopeful that we can, in fact, shift individual behavior and have a meaningful impact on climate change,” said Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare.

“Today’s winners are a reminder of the power of individual change to show that tackling climate change is possible,” said Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund’s Senior Vice President of Climate Change and Energy, who presented the People’s Choice Award. “When climate-smart ideas take root in communities and within businesses, it can trigger even bigger change. Initiatives like these are busting the myth that solutions to climate change are too hard while showing politicians that the public is ready for federal action.”

While traditional approaches to encouraging individuals to lower their greenhouse gas emissions often rely on economic or regulatory incentives, Solution Search focused on approaches using insights from behavioral science including appealing to people’s emotions, shifting social norms, or making preferred behaviors easier to adopt.

All Solution Search finalists won a space in a behavioral insights workshop, which took place at Rare’s headquarters on Monday, March 18. They were also invited to BE.Hive summit at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC, alongside some of the biggest names in behavioral science, conservation, business, development and the arts.

This is the fifth Solution Search contest. Rare, in conjunction with other partners, facilitated the previous contests, Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries, Adapting to a Changing Environment, Reducing our Risk andFarming for Biodiversity.