Climate charity Ashden is inviting entries for the 2021 Ashden Award for cooling in informal settlements. The award will boost the growth and replication of outstanding innovation, honouring work delivering climate justice by protecting low-income communities from rising global temperatures.

Entry is free, and applications close on 3 March 2021. Apply online at ashden.org. 

The winner will receive a £20,000 grant, while all finalists are given marketing support and access to Ashden’s network of funders, investors and expert partners – as well as opportunities such as pro-bono legal support. Ashden will also fund a powerful promotional film about the winner’s work.

Millions of people in low-income neighbourhoods face dangerous heat inside and outside their homes. This brings the risk of mental and physical health problems – and makes it hard or impossible to study, earn a living or even sleep well. In the most extreme cases, night-time temperatures can be up to 80C higher indoors than out. Solutions can be hard to implement – these homes are rarely subject to planning regulations, while conventional air conditioning is too expensive for residents (and further drives the climate crisis).  

Affordable non-mechanised cooling solutions exist, such as temperature-lowering roof and wall adaptations, natural ventilation systems, evaporative cooling and the use of plants, trees and structures to provide cooling shade. This award will spotlight the best initiatives alleviating heat stress, and help make solutions accessible and affordable to those in greatest need. 

Criteria: Entries will be judged on criteria including reducing inequality, enhancing resilience, participation and democratisation, contribution to decarbonisation, and wider social benefits – such as improved health or incomes. 

Last year’s Ashden Award for Cool Cities was won by the Natural Resources Defence Council, for its work on the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan. Ashden is rapidly expanding its work in cooling through the Fair Cooling Fund, a partnership with seven cooling pioneers in Ghana, Egypt, India, Colombia and Rwanda.