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The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
2002 Associate Laureate Sebastian Chuwa

This page provides information about the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and Associate Laureate Sebastian Chuwa:




rolexawards1.jpg (34332 bytes)London, 22 October 2002 – Marking the 10th series of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, Rolex announces the winners of this global initiative. Five Laureates and five Associate Laureates, with projects ranging from whale protection in the Canaries to preserving the world’s largest rainforest corridor, have been drawn from five continents.

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise recognise groundbreaking projects in the areas of technology, science, the environment, exploration and cultural heritage. This year, the Laureates were selected from almost 1,400 applicants from 113 countries by an international panel of prominent scientists and explorers, including the UK’s Baroness Susan Greenfield. Each Laureate received $100,000 and a specially inscribed, gold Rolex chronometer yesterday evening at a gala ceremony in Tokyo. The Associate Laureates will each receive $35,000 and a steel-and-gold Rolex chronometer at events in their home countries.

In the UK, a ceremony on 6th November at the Royal Institution of Great Britain will celebrate Geoffrey Summers’ discovery and mapping of Iron Age villages on the Anatolian Plateau, and Sebastian Chuwa’s preservation of Tanzania’s national tree. (Please refer to accompanying background on Laureates and Associate Laureates).

rolexawards2.jpg (29363 bytes)Speaking at the event at the Royal Institution on 6 November will be Baroness Susan Greenfield, a member of the selection committee for this year’s Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Discussing the awards programme, Baroness Greenfield said: "As a judge for this year’s awards, I was inspired by the calibre of the projects and encouraged to see the spirit of enterprise so alive. The recognition and financial support that Rolex gives is often critical to seeing new ideas become reality. In so doing, I believe it to be one of the most constructive corporate philanthropic programmes I’m aware of."

Baroness Greenfield continued: "I am delighted that the Royal Institution is acting as host to this event because the aim of the Awards is so complementary to ours."


Selection Process

Each of the award-winning projects was studied and discussed by the independent, voluntary jury, the 2002 Selection Committee, ten experts whose own spirit of enterprise is exemplary. "The jury members were particularly sensitive to environmental issues this year," reported Mr Patrick Heiniger, Chief Executive of Rolex. "They were impressed by the importance the winning candidates placed on local people living and working in harmony with nature in order to ensure sustainable development."

Joining Mr Heiniger and Baroness Susan Greenfield on the 2002 Selection Committee were Dr Juan Luis Arsuaga, Spanish palaeoanthropologist and biologist; Laurence de la Ferrière, French alpinist and explorer; Dr Laila El-Hamamsy, cultural anthropologist from Egypt; Liu Thai Ker, Singaporean architect-planner and environmentalist; Fumihiko Maki, Japanese architect; Professor Chie Nakane, Japanese social anthropologist; Dr Oscar Rodriguez, explorer and sports physician from Mexico; Dr Anatoly M. Sagalevitch, Russian oceanologist and pioneer explorer of deep oceans, and Dr Neil de Grasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist.


Seeking New Applicants

In June this year, Rolex invited applications from enterprising men and women the world over for the 11th Awards cycle, the 2004 Rolex Awards. The biennial programme provides financial support and global recognition to visionary and dedicated individuals whose ongoing working projects are original and feasible, and have a positive impact on the surrounding community and beyond.


The Rolex Laureates 2002

Michel André – The Whale Anti-Collision System

French biologist and engineer Michel André has devised a groundbreaking system to warn fast-moving vessels of the presence of whales in areas of concentrated shipping, thereby preventing the frequent collisions that occur in these sea highways. The Whale Anti-Collision System pairs his knowledge of whale vocalisation with the latest "passive acoustic" technology to solve a global problem. Using the Canary Islands as a testing ground, André will implement and refine his pioneering method.


José Márcio Ayres – Preserving the World’s Biggest Rainforest Corridor

A forest ecologist, José Márcio Ayres today leads an effort to save the biggest protected area of rainforest on the planet. Having already changed the way his fellow Brazilians view conservation, Ayres is proving that the amazing biodiversity of the Amazon is best safeguarded when local people, rather than being part of the problem, become part of the solution.


Dave Irvine-Halliday – Bringing Light to the Developing World

Dave Irvine-Halliday, a Canadian electrical engineer, realised that a single 0.1-watt, white-light emitting diode supplies enough light for a child living in a remote area with no electricity to read by. The simple but revolutionary technology already supplied to homes in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka by his Light Up The World Foundation can light an entire rural village with less energy than that used by a single, conventional, 100-watt light bulb.


Lindy Rodwell – Preserving Cranes in Africa

Zoologist Lindy Rodwell has devoted the past 11 years to preserving cranes, especially the wattled crane that is critically endangered in her native South Africa. Following the birds’ distribution across Africa, Rodwell is expanding her conservation network, aiming to combine the efforts of volunteers and experts in the 11 "wattled crane states" of central and southern Africa, while protecting the wetlands on which cranes and many people depend.


Gordon Sato – Sustainable Agriculture in Eritrea

American biologist Gordon Sato is spending his retirement helping some of the world’s poorest people, in Eritrea, to help themselves. His innovative Manzanar project harnesses the area’s intense sunlight and seawater to grow mangrove plants that can be used not only to feed animals, but also to provide a habitat for fish and shellfish. His aim is to help impoverished, coastal communities in this war-torn country to develop a low-tech, sustainable agricultural economy.


The Rolex Associate Laureates 2002

toyota.jpg (50621 bytes)Sebastian Chuwa - Saving Tanzania’s national tree

Tanzania’s national tree, the African blackwood – or mpingo – has huge commercial, cultural and ecological importance. Its dark, dense wood is valued worldwide by makers of woodwind instruments and is used in Tanzania to make intricate statues. Once common throughout much of Africa, the numbers of slow-growing mpingo are shrinking at an alarming rate. It is fitting that this "tree of music" is the focus of a community-based conservation programme initiated by Tanzanian botanist Sebastian Chuwa.


Ilse Köhler-Rollefson - Protecting an ancient community’s way of life in Rajasthan

A doctor of veterinary medicine from the German town of Ober-Ramstadt, Ilse Köhler-Rollefson spends half of each year in a remote part of India’s Thar Desert where she has become a leading advocate of a struggling community of camel-herders. Köhler-Rollefson is leading a remarkable movement to save their livestock, pastoral livelihood and way of life.


Makato Murase - Recycling rainwater in Hong Kong

A career civil servant with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical science, Makoto Murase has pioneered the recycling of urban rainwater and is now a global campaigner for utilising a valuable resource that many of the world’s city-dwellers regard as a nuisance. Under the slogan "Rainwater tanks for peace, not battle tanks for war", Murase has compiled a "Rain Encyclopaedia" to help his country and others to make use of this precious supply of water.


Martha Ruiz Corzo - Protecting the extraordinary biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda

The Sierra Gorda mountains are known as the "green jewel" of Mexico. Four climatic zones converge in the region, producing an astonishing variety of ecosystems. Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo argues that fighting poverty and saving the Sierra Gorda from the growing danger of environmental deterioration must go hand in hand. So she has enlisted tens of thousands of villagers as allies. Their lives are improving because of her commitment to forging a new culture of sustainable development in the countryside.


Geoffrey Summers - Mapping and exploring an Iron Age city on the Anatolian plateau

Sprawled beneath a 2.5 square kilometre site on a low granite mountain in central Turkey, an ancient city dating from the Iron Age captured the attention of British archaeologist Geoffrey Summers. The sheer size of the site forced him to devise new ways of mapping and exploring it. Summers’ project is providing convincing evidence for his theory that the ruined city is Pteria, ancient capital of the mysterious Median empire, where Eastern and Western cultures met in the 6th century BC.



The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Fact Sheet


Objective The Rolex Awards for Enterprise aim to encourage a spirit of enterprise in visionary individuals around the globe by providing the financial support and recognition they need to implement innovative, working projects that advance human knowledge and well-being.


History Rolex established the Awards in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of its own greatest innovation, the Oyster chronometer, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. The programme reflects the company’s long-held commitment to individual excellence and its tradition of supporting talent and achievement. Now held every two years, the Awards have been presented on ten occasions.


Award Areas The five key areas of recognition are:

Science and Medicine – projects in the natural or physical sciences that contribute to human health and welfare

Technology and Innovation – inventions, new devices or processes in the applied sciences that contribute significantly to the world

Exploration and Discovery – expeditions, journeys or ventures that inspire our imagination, expand our knowledge of the world or shed new light on our planet

The Environment – projects that protect, preserve or improve our natural and physical surroundings

Cultural Heritage – projects that conserve, safeguard or contribute to our common historical, cultural or artistic heritage

However a project may be submitted in almost any field of endeavour, provided it contributes to the betterment of humankind.


Eligibility There is no restriction as to who can apply for a Rolex Award. Anyone of any age, from any country or background is eligible. Entrants have ranged from taxi drivers to schoolteachers, carpenters, molecular biologists and archaeologists. Unlike most other award programmes that depend on nominations by others, applicants must submit their own ideas and proposals. Typically these individuals have little or no access to traditional sources of funding.

Applications Prospective entrants can obtain further information about the Rolex Awards or access an Official Application Form online via the Awards website,, or by writing to the Rolex Awards Secretariat at PO Box 1311, 1211 Geneva 26. Applications are accepted by geographical region, with the following deadlines:

Asia and Pacific; Middle East – May 31, 2003

Africa; North, Central and South America – July 31, 2003

Eastern and Western Europe – September 30, 2003


Prizes The Rolex Awards fund new or ongoing work and assist in the completion of outstanding initiatives rather than rewarding past achievements.

Five Laureates, those who present the most exceptional projects, each receive US$100,000 and a specially inscribed, gold Rolex chronometer at an official awards ceremony. Five runners-up, the Associate Laureates, will this year each receive $35,000 as well as a steel-and-gold Rolex chronometer. Ceremonies for these men and women are held in their home country or region. All of these winners benefit from the international recognition of their work.

Award recipients must use their monetary prizes, which may vary from one Awards series to another, to implement or complete their pioneering projects.


Selection Criteria Four main criteria are used to select the winning projects:

Spirit of enterprise – a project carried out with determination, tenacity and boldness, usually against challenging odds

Feasibility – a project that is likely to succeed

Originality – an innovative project that breaks new ground

Impact – the project that has a positive impact on the community

Judges also consider what effect a Rolex Award will have on the completion of the project.


Judges The Selection Committee, an independent, voluntary jury of internationally renowned experts representing a variety of disciplines and countries, evaluates the projects and chooses the Laureates and Associate Laureates. Chaired by Rolex Chief Executive Officer Patrick Heiniger, the panel changes for each series.



The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

The Selection Committee 2002


The 2002 Selection Committee comprised an impressive and diverse mix of individuals, including explorers, environmentalists, anthropologists, architects and scientists – all leaders in fields that reflect the Awards’ categories. In April 2002 in Geneva, this panel met under the chairmanship of Rolex Chief Executive Officer Patrick Heiniger to evaluate the projects and choose the Laureates and Associate Laureates of the Tenth Rolex Awards for Enterprise.


Juan Luis Arsuaga - Spain
Palaeoanthropologist and biologist

Juan Luis Arsuaga has been at the forefront of international human palaeontology research for more than 20 years. As co-director of the Atapuerca Research Project in northern Spain since 1991, he has played a key role in two of the most significant archaeo-palaeontological finds of the 20th century. These are the discovery of Homo antecessor, 800,000-year-old hominids believed to represent a new human species; and the world’s largest collection of hominid fossils, including some 30 complete skeletons about 300,000-years-old. Dr Arsuaga, a professor of human palaeontology at Complutense University in Madrid and a visiting professor at University College London, is a prolific writer whose 1998 publication, Atapuerca: One Million Years of History, won a prize as Spain’s most popular scientific book.


Laurence de la Ferrière - France
Alpinist and explorer

Celebrated French alpinist and explorer Laurence de la Ferrière has spent the past two decades pitting herself against nature. In her quest to scale the world’s highest peaks and traverse polar deserts, de la Ferrière has set several records. She has twice broken the women’s world record for altitude without oxygen and in 1997 she became the first French person to reach the South Pole alone. She then wrote a book about the expedition. One of the explorer’s most outstanding exploits was her 58-day, 3,000-kilometre solo crossing from the South Pole to Dumont d’Urville in Adelie Land, for which she was commended for her courage and contribution to science by French President Jacques Chirac. More than half of the gruelling trek covered unexplored terrain.


Laila El-Hamamsy – Egypt
Cultural Anthropologist

Dr Laila El-Hamamsy has devoted her life to championing women in developing countries as well as to helping preserve the environment and control population. Over the past quarter-century, she has served as director of the Social Research Center of the American University in Cairo, where she is currently professor emeritus. El-Hamamsy’s work for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee are only two of her many accomplishments on behalf of the UN. Today, Dr El-Hamamsy is also a member of Egypt’s National Bioethics Committee, the Committee on Genetics and Ethics of the National Specialised Science Council and the World Society of Ekistics – the study of human settlements.


Susan Greenfield - United Kingdom

Baroness Susan Greenfield, CBE, is renowned for her groundbreaking studies of the brain and human consciousness and for her efforts to cure neurodegenerative disorders. A professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and a fellow in medicine at Oxford’s Lincoln College, she was recently made a politically independent peer in the House of Lords. Baroness Greenfield’s appointment as the first woman director of the 200-year-old Royal Institution, and her 1998 Michael Faraday medal from the Royal Society further attest to her position as one of Britain’s most influential scientists. She is also widely known for her popular books, newspaper columns and television programmes about the brain, which help fulfil her desire to make science exciting and accessible to the public.


Liu Thai Ker – Singapore
Architect-planner and environmentalist

Singapore’s swiftly changing face owes much to Liu Thai Ker. The architect-planner and environmentalist has greatly improved living conditions in Singapore, in particular spearheading the growth and changing role of public housing during his 20 years with the Housing and Development Board, including 10 years as chief executive officer. Liu’s visionary yet pragmatic approach to planning and conservation was further demonstrated during his years as head of Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and continues today at the architectural, planning and engineering firm which he directs. For Liu, born into a family of well-known artists, cultural development and a vibrant economy are linked. As chairman of the National Arts Council, he is helping Singapore to become a cultural centre.


Fumihiko Maki – Japan

Visionary architect Fumihiko Maki is dedicated to creating innovative buildings that meet human needs while capturing the spirit of time and place. During more than three decades as principal of Maki & Associates, the former architecture professor has been responsible for a range of international projects reflecting modernist influences and a fusion of Asian and Western cultures, a result of his years of studying and working in Japan and abroad. Emblematic of this style is the Hillside Terrace Apartments and Hillside West project, considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of post-war Japan. For this building complex and other structures, Maki was awarded the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale Award for the development of international arts and culture.


Chie Nakane – Japan
Social anthropologist

Professor emeritus Chie Nakane has spent a lifetime investigating and chronicling Asian societies, including those of Japan, India, China and Tibet. Today, the focus of her work concerns comparing social structures as well as tackling issues faced by developing countries. Prof. Nakane’s incisive study of Japan is presented in her seminal book, "Japanese Society", which offers an insight into Japanese society and its organisational structure. The respected scholar and social anthropologist became the first woman professor at the University of Tokyo in 1970 and, to date, is the first and only woman member of the Japan Academy. A 1987 recipient of the prestigious Japan Foundation Award for her research, she is also an honorary member of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.


Oscar Rodriguez – Mexico
Explorer and sports physician

Always ready for a challenge, Dr Oscar Rodriguez set out on a lifetime of adventure, scaling the world’s highest peaks, diving, cycling and parachuting. The sports physician, a world-famous explorer, writer and photographer, became the first and, to date, only Latin American to appear twice in the Guinness Book of Records for his two record-breaking marathon cycling expeditions in Mexico. He was also the first Mexican to reach the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, and to cycle around it on a mountain bike. When not on expeditions, Dr Rodriguez teaches and lectures on such diverse subjects as the benefits of cycling and mountain climbing and the dangers of drug abuse.


Anatoly M. Sagalevitch – Russia
Oceanologist and pioneer explorer of deep oceans

Dr Anatoly Sagalevitch has spent thousands of hours underwater exploring the ocean depths. The eminent oceanologist and his international team of scientists have journeyed to depths of more than 6,000 metres on board the twin MIR submersibles which he helped design for the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences where he has worked for 36 years. Dr Sagalevitch currently heads the Institute’s Laboratory of Manned Submersibles and is chief scientist and expedition leader on board the MIR support vessel. His numerous scientific and technical missions have broadened knowledge of the world’s oceans. These expeditions include studying hydrothermal vents and, recently, investigating the wreck of the Bismarck. Dr Sagalevitch and his crew also assisted in the filming of ‘Titanic’.


Neil de Grasse Tyson – United States

From an early age, Dr Neil de Grasse Tyson was fascinated with the cosmos and began learning about astronomy at New York’s famed Hayden Planetarium. Today, he is the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium and one of the most visible and respected scientists in the United States. In addition to conducting research in dwarf galaxies, exploding stars and the evolution of the Milky Way, Dr Tyson is a visiting research scientist and lecturer in astrophysics at Princeton University. The well-known astrophysicist helps to demystify science for the general public through his frequent television appearances, lectures, monthly columns and books. He is particularly dedicated to educating New York’s disadvantaged schoolchildren who he hopes will "become participants in cosmic discovery".



ABCP Website maintained by James E. Harris, © 2000.
Last revised 11 April 2014 .