[ASC-media] Media release: Rolex announces winners of international awards scheme

JCA Media jca.media at starclass.com.au
Wed Oct 25 01:05:30 CEST 2006


Embargo 0600 AEST, 26 October 2006


Five Laureates Gain Prize for Pioneering Projects

Singapore, 26 October 2006 - Marking three decades since the inception of its international awards programme, Rolex today named the winners of the 12th Rolex Awards for Enterprise. The Laureates - three women and two men - hail from Australia, France, India, Thailand and the United Kingdom. They join the 55 Laureates who, since 1976, have been singled out by the Swiss watchmaker for their innovative projects to change the world and make it a better place to live.

Each Laureate will receive US$100,000 and a personally inscribed gold Rolex chronometer tomorrow evening (26 October) at a ceremony at the Esplanade performing arts centre in Singapore. The five winners - selected by an independent panel of experts from nearly 1,700 applicants from 117 countries - will be recognized for their contributions to science, technology, the environment, exploration and cultural heritage.

The new Laureates are: 
- Alexandra Lavrillier, a French ethnologist establishing a mobile school to preserve Siberian nomads' cultural heritage; 
- Brad Norman, an Australian environmentalist implementing a global photo identification database for whaleshark conservation; 
- Pilai Poonswad, a Thai microbiology professor saving hornbills threatened by poaching and deforestation in southern Thailand; 
- Chanda Shroff, an Indian woman setting up a mobile resource centre to showcase Kutchi embroidery and teach a new generation of artisans about this tradition; and 
- Rory Wilson, a British zoologist testing a revolutionary energy-expenditure measuring device to help conserve wildlife.

"The Laureates demonstrate the unwavering spirit of enterprise that has underpinned the Rolex Awards since their beginning 30 years ago," said Patrick Heiniger, Chief Executive Officer of Rolex SA and Chairman of the Awards Selection Committee. "We at Rolex are gratified that we have been able to support these brave individuals who dare to do things differently to improve the human condition."

The Associate Laureates

In addition to the prizes awarded to the 2006 Laureates, five Associate Laureates will each receive $50,000 and a steel-and-gold Rolex chronometer. These runners-up will be honoured at ceremonies in their own countries or regions in the months ahead.

The 2006 Associate Laureates are: Cristian Donoso (Chile), Zenón Gomel Apaza (Peru), Shafqat Hussain (Pakistan), Runa Khan Marre (Bangladesh) and Julien Meyer (France). Their projects range from revitalising and preserving whistled and drummed languages via the internet, to implementing an original insurance scheme to save the snow leopard in Pakistan and exploring western Patagonia by kayak as indigenous people did centuries ago.

Selection Process
This year's Selection Committee, a voluntary panel of nine world-renowned scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, conservationists and explorers were eminently qualified to apply their own spirit of enterprise in judging the diverse projects presented to them. "The committee members and I were struck by the originality of thought put forth by the winners, by how these pioneers have broken new ground in an innovative, yet constructive way," commented Mr Heiniger.

Joining Mr Heiniger on the 2006 Selection Committee were Dr Laretna T. Adishakti, Indonesian architect and founder of the Center for Heritage Conservation; Professor Denise Bradley, vice chancellor and president of the University of South Australia; Motoko Ishii, Japanese lighting designer; Erling Kagge, Norwegian polar explorer and mountaineer; Professor Tommy Koh, diplomat and patron of the arts from Singapore; William K. Reilly, American conservationist; Dr Luis Rojas Marcos, American professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine; Mark Shuttleworth, South African technology entrepreneur and philanthropist; and Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, British surgeon and founder of the Magdi Yacoub Institute.

Seeking New Applicants
In June this year, Rolex called for entries to the 2008 Rolex Awards, inviting enterprising individuals in a broad range of areas to apply to the 13th series of the biennial programme. The Rolex Awards aim to find and reward extraordinary and often unrecognized men and women worldwide whose ongoing projects benefit the global environment and mankind. These projects must be original, feasible and positively impact the community.

The regional deadlines for entries for the 13th Rolex Awards are:
31 May 2007 for Australia, Asia, the Pacific and North, Central and South America;
30 September 2007 for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Alexandra Lavrillier: Run a nomadic school for Evenk hunter-herders in Siberia
In south-eastern Siberia, a nomadic people are trying to preserve their way of life. The traditional culture of the Evenk, who excel at reindeer herding, hunting and fishing, has been eroded through contact with Western civilization. For eight years, Alexandra Lavrillier, a brilliant French ethnologist, has been helping them to save their heritage by setting up a nomadic school that will give Evenk children the chance to receive a modern education while maintaining their ancestral traditions.

Brad Norman: Establish a global photo-ID network for whale shark conservation
Impelled by a love of the sea and its largest fish, the elusive whale shark, Australian marine conservationist Brad Norman has created a photo-identification system to assist its conservation. Based on a pattern-recognition method originally invented to study constellations in the night sky, the system will soon enable scores of coastal communities and thousands of individual divers to gather information about this gentle giant of the seas.

Pilai Poonswad: Engage rural communities in Thailand in saving threatened hornbills
After rediscovering a species of hornbill thought to be extinct in southern Thailand's ravaged rainforests, Thai microbiologist Pilai Poonswad set about turning former poachers and illegal loggers into protectors of these glorious birds and their precarious habitat. Her plan for city families to "adopt" hornbill nests to fund the work has brought about remarkable changes in community attitudes towards conservation.

Chanda Shroff: Revive the craft of embroidery in Kutch, India
In a remote part of India, Chanda Shroff has established a movement to revive a local form of artistic expression, hand embroidery, creating a sustainable means of income. The region of Kutch once had a long and rich tradition of embroidery. But, since the 1960s, synthetic materials and machine work have pushed this craft close to extinction. Shroff is preserving this unique heritage while promoting an exquisite art form and empowering women in highly conservative societies.

Rory Wilson: Develop a revolutionary electronic logging device to track animals
English zoologist Rory Wilson is renowned for developing ingenious ways to track wild animals and record their behaviour without directly observing them. His latest invention, a lightweight logging device, can go where satellite-based tracking devices cannot, to observe free-living animals. Wilson's new logger harnesses the laws of physics to accurately estimate the energy expenditure of animals, and is set to revolutionize research into the behaviour of threatened species and obtain precious data to help save them.

For information, please contact:
Prof. Julian Cribb, 0418 639 245
Julian.Cribb at work.netspeed.com.au

Rolex Australia: 03 9658 0900

Feature articles on all the laureates are available, with high quality colour images at the Rolex Awards for Enterprise Website:

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