The Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2016 was recently held in Los Angeles to celebrate the spirit of exceptional individuals with the passion and commitment to improve life on the planet.
Forty years ago, in September 1976, Rolex made history by announcing one of the world’s first major corporate awards programmes, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Rolex today was commemorating the 40th anniversary by paying tribute to the Rolex Laureates, who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism.
The idea behind
The Rolex Awards were set up to mark 50 years of the historic achievement of the Rolex Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. The objective was to create a programme that reflected the spirit of enterprise that inspired Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf to create this iconic timepiece.
Since then, Rolex Laureates, ranging in age from 24 to 74, have carried out projects benefiting millions of people in more than 60 countries. These include the implementing technological and scientific innovations, protecting endangered species and ecosystems and providing basic facilities in developing countries, to name a few.
The chosen ones
The 140 innovators had been selected as Laureates by an independent Jury of experts, which changes for each series. These pioneers were chosen from a field of 33,000 men and women of all ages and walks of life from 190 countries who have applied to the initiative since 1976. In recent years, applications have demonstrated a strong interest in the environment, the predominance of public health and technology-driven projects, and a vast increase in women applicants.
The 10 Rolex Awards winners – six men and four women – were chosen by an international Jury of 12 eminent experts. They had been shortlisted from among 2,322 applicants representing 144 nationalities.
The Indian Laureate; Sonam Wangchuk
Winner of the 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, Sonam Wangchuk, is a Ladakhi engineer who has been playing an integral role in developing and supporting Leh, Ladakh through enterprise and philanthropic initiatives. He has been solving the problem of lack of water for agriculture in the desert landscapes of the western Himalayas by building ‘Ice Stupas’.
Named after Buddhist monuments, these conical ice mounds behave like mini artificial glaciers, slowly releasing water in the growing season. Wangchuk intends to build up to 20 such ice stupas, each 30 metres high and capable of supplying millions of litres of water. A long-term aim is to build an alternative university and engage youth in the environment.
“The Rolex Award funds will support the project and promote ice stupas as a climate-change adaptation and desert-greening technique,” he says.