22 April , 2020

GWEC launches Memorial Award in honour of late CEO Steve Sawyer


  • The Global Wind Energy Council has launched REvolutionaries: The Steve Sawyer Memorial Award to promote and support young pioneers of renewable energy in developing countries, in honour of the life’s work of GWEC’s late CEO Steve Sawyer.
  • The annual award empowers young leaders in renewable energy in the public sector, private sector or civil society, with a different regional focus for each annual program cycle, beginning with Africa in 2020.
  • Winners of the award will receive a comprehensive prize package which emphasises career development, networking and thought leadership.

22 April 2020, Brussels – On the occasion of Earth Day, GWEC has launched a memorial award in honour of its late CEO Steve Sawyer – REvolutionaries: The Steve Sawyer Memorial Award. The award will honour Steve’s life mission to pioneer the global energy transition, recognising young leaders in the renewable energy sector in developing countries.

Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said: “Steve was a pioneer in many areas, not least in recognising the critical importance of climate change and the big role wind energy was going to play in reducing global CO2 emissions. Throughout his life he showed incredible courage and commitment in his campaigning work and was a champion of young people – particularly women – who were willing to step up, get involved in the energy transition and become leaders. We hope this award will help a new generation of renewable energy champions to come forward and continue Steve’s work.”

Kelly Rigg, Steve’s wife [of 35 years] and director of the Varda Group environmental consultancy commented: “Steve always had an eye for talent, and he particularly admired people who weren’t afraid to shake up the status quo. And of course shaking up the prevailing fossil-fuelled energy system was at the top of his list for so many years. Nothing gave him more hope than seeing young people he’d mentored make their mark on the world. He would have been incredibly proud to see donations made in his name going to rising stars in renewables, and particularly those coming from developing countries that have so much potential to choose a more resilient energy future”.

Steve had a distinguished career in environmental and climate activism. During his tenure at Greenpeace International, he survived the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior ship while campaigning against nuclear testing in French Polynesia. Steve became GWEC’s first Secretary General in 2007, contributing significantly to developing the wind industry in several countries, including India, China, Brazil and South Africa. Steve remained with GWEC until his passing in July 2019.

Reflecting Steve’s values, the award seeks to empower young people working on the frontiers of the renewable energy revolution in their respective countries. The annual award will have a different regional focus for each program cycle. In 2020, the programme will focus on clean energy leaders in Africa, with candidates either working in or targeting their work to one or several countries in Africa.

The winner will receive a prize that seeks to empower the recipient to further their work in driving the clean energy revolution. The prize package includes a monetary prize, funded travel to attend a regional GWEC event, as well as opportunities to promote the recipient’s thought leadership to a global network.

A jury will determine the winner of the award, focusing on five key criteria: leadership, renewable energy, innovation, scalability, and diversity. The jury is composed of people close to Steve, including members of Steve’s family, GWEC, REN21 and Greenpeace.

Applications are now open for the award until 7 June 2020. More information about the award and how to apply can be found here.


About Global Wind Energy Council

GWEC is a member-based organization that represents the entire wind energy sector. The members of GWEC represent over 1,500 companies, organizations and institutions in more than 80 countries, including manufacturers, developers, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies. Find out more: https://gwec.net/.  

For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Pek

[email protected]

+32 490 56 81 39


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