Award Honors Leaderâ€™s Transformative Impact on the Environment
Aspen, Colorado - March 27, 2009 â€“ Her Majesty Queen Noor, chair of the King Hussein Foundation, presented the 2008 King Hussein Leadership Prize on Friday to Mr. Freling who has been called an â€˜eco-heroâ€™ for his leadership in bringing green energy to rural villages around the world.
Mr. Freling, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), was chosen for the award in recognition of his visionary leadership and distinguished work with SELF to bring solar power to some of the two billion people in the world that are still living beyond the reach of an electric power grid.
Established in 1999, the King Hussein Leadership Prize is an annual international award given to individuals, groups or institutions that reflect King Hussein's visionary and courageous leadership in their efforts to promote sustainable development, human rights, tolerance, equity and peace.
Today, the Foundation is building on King Husseinâ€™s pioneering conservation legacy through education, sustainable development, microfinance programs, and plans for a green technology park.
In presenting the 2008 Award, Queen Noor said, â€œMr. Freling is a visionary leader working at the intersection of environmental stewardship and sustainable human development, whose work has had a transformative impact on the quality of life, opportunity, and the security and stability of communities around the world. SELF helps whole villages leapfrog from no reliable energy to affordable, green power that in turn provides access to other basic rights â€“ clean water, education, healthcare, and economic empowerment. Mr. Frelingâ€™s commitment and determination to abolish energy poverty around the globe embodies the humanitarian vision and indomitable spirit of King Hussein that we celebrate with this award.â€
Photo courtesy of Michael Brands, The Aspen Institute
SELF is a nonprofit organization working to combat climate change and reduce energy poverty by bringing solar energy and wireless Internet access to remote rural villages in the developing world. Under Mr. Frelingâ€™s leadership, SELF has pioneered innovative applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, telemedicine in the Amazon rainforest, vaccine refrigeration in Rwanda, online distance learning in South Africa, and micro-enterprise development in Nigeria.
â€œTo be recognized by the King Hussein Foundation for my work with SELF is an extraordinary honor. This award validates our commitment to providing sustainable energy as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty and generating light and hope in some of the poorest, most marginalized parts of the world,â€ said Mr. Freling. â€œIt is my belief that access to electricity, as an absolute prerequisite for development, has a vital role to play in the securing of peace, equality, and human rights for all.â€
Queen Noor presented Mr. Freling with the 2008 award during a ceremony at the Aspen Institute and National Geographic Energy and Environment Forum in Aspen, Colorado.
Previous prize winners include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Seeds of Peace, The Arab Human Development Reports, Dr. Rola Dashti, Mrs. Saliha Djuderija, OneVoice, MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res, Mary Robinson, The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The first King Hussein Leadership Prize was awarded in 1999 to Professor Muhammed Yunus, founder and creator of the Grameen Bank.