Press Release: World Energy Council Announces Centennial World Energy Leadership Award Winners

22nd April 2024

Press Release

World Energy Council Announces Centennial World Energy Leadership Award Winners

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Vaclav Smil, Barefoot College International and World Energy Council founder Daniel Nicol Dunlop honoured at the 26th World Energy Congress

22 April 2024: The World Energy Council has announced the recipients of its inaugural World Energy Leadership Awards, honoured at its Centennial Dinner on the eve of the 26th World Energy Congress which opens today in Rotterdam.

Set to commence today in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the 26th Congress marks 100 years of convening the world energy community and delivering global and regional impact.

At a critical moment in world energy leadership, the 26th World Energy Congress will progress the goal of ‘Redesigning Energy for People and Planet,’ putting people and communities at the heart of making energy transitions happen in all regions.

The four awards are:

The Global Energy Transition Impact Award is awarded to H.E. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, COP28 President, UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, for achieving a historic COP28 agreement known as the UAE Consensus, and for the added achievements of launching Net Zero energy transition alliances involving multiple energy sectors. His personal commitment and persistence have set a new direction in world energy towards accelerating decarbonisation with justice and resilience, leaving a lasting and positive impact on both society and the environment.

The Energy Systems Luminary Award for significant thought leadership contributions is awarded to Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba Vaclav Smil in recognition of his significant contributions to advancing energy literacy. Professor Smil’s achievements in effectively bridging the gap between complex energy concepts and public understanding have fostered a more informed and conscious modern world energy society. 

The Humanising Energy Award is bestowed on Barefoot College International for achieving millions of smaller steps in making faster, fairer and more far-reaching energy transitions happen. BCI has enabled more people – women, workers, youth - and supported the roles and choices of diverse place-based and indigenous communities – as designers, builders, users, operators and owners of new power systems worldwide.

The World Energy Visionary Leadership Award for shaping the future of energy for the common good is bestowed posthumously on Daniel Nicol Dunlop, pioneer of the first World Power Conference in 1924 and the de-facto founder of the World Energy Council.  Mr. Dunlop's extraordinary foresight has made a lasting impression, fostering collaboration and innovation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable energy future. Henceforth, this award will be known as the Dunlop Award for Energy Leadership. 

Dr Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General and CEO of the World Energy Council said: “This  inaugural set of World Energy Council awards is  being made on the occasion of the Council’s centennial anniversary - a century after we first convened power for global common good at the World Power Conference, in 1924 and on the eve of our 26th World Energy Congress in Rotterdam. These awards recognise the rare and extraordinary combination of visionary AND practical leadership achievements for building and transforming energy systems for the greater good of people and planet, and for peace and progress. 

H.E. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, COP28 President, UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said, “On behalf of the United Arab Emirates and the COP28 team, I am deeply honored to receive this award from the World Energy Council. This is really a recognition of the vision and commitment of the UAE’s leadership, who were first movers in promoting a responsible energy transition and in enabling sustainable socio- economic development. They have been instrumental in rallying the world around the climate challenge. “COP28 set a new standard for inclusivity,” the President said. “We moved the world beyond self-interest for the common good and we set clear direction, guided by the science, for keeping our North Star of 1.5°C within reach. We now need to show that same solidarity in turning an unprecedented agreement into unprecedented action.”

Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba Vaclav Smil said, “I’m honoured getting this recognition for my life’s work.    As I always used to say to my students, science and engineering in the 21st century are giant buildings – and some of us lucky ones get the opportunity to add a few bricks to them.”

Rodrigo Paris Rojas, CEO of Barefoot College International said, “We’re delighted to receive this award on behalf of Barefoot College International. Our aim is always to empower rural and indigenous communities in progressing energy transition projects in the Global South. Through programs such as Solar Mamas in countries like Guatemala, Madagascar, Senegal, Zanzibar, etc, we’ve been able to train women to become solar engineers, bringing sustainable energy to rural and marginalized communities following Gandhian principles. Rural women are the most important change makers at community level for ensuring clean and inclusive energy transitions”.


The World Energy Congress is being held from 22-25 April at the Rotterdam Ahoy convention centre. Final registrations remain open for stakeholders and media, please visit:


About the World Energy Council

The World Energy Council is the world's oldest independent and impartial community of energy leaders and practitioners. Through our Humanising Energy vision, we involve more people and communities in accelerating clean and just energy transitions in all world regions.

Formed in 1923, the Council has convened diverse interests from across the full energy ecosystem for a century, and today has over 3,000 member organisations and a presence in over 100 countries. Our global network draws from governments, private and state corporations, academia and civil society, as well as current and future energy leaders.

We effectively collaborate on impact programmes and inform local, regional and global energy agendas in support of our enduring mission: to promote the sustainable use and supply of energy for the benefit of all people. Further details at and on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

About the World Energy Congress

For 100 years, the World Energy Congress has convened the cooperative power of the world energy community to turn inspiration into action. As the global flagship platform of the World Energy Council, the World Energy Congress reaches across the public, private and civic sectors to connect and inspire leaders and practitioners from within and beyond energy.

Hosted in cities across the world since 1924, the Congress is a unique space for the world energy community to address challenges of energy for people and planet, catalyse new co-operations and build multiple better pathways for global energy transitions.

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