RELX Group announces 2017 Environmental Challenge winners

RELX, Press Release, August 2017

RELX Group has announced the winners of the 2017 RELX Group Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation 

Stockholm – RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries has announced the winners of the 2017 RELX Group Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The $50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were recognised during World Water Week in Stockholm, a unique annual event bringing together water researchers, policymakers, journalists, companies and non-profits to address the key water challenges of the 21st century. 

The 2017 award winners were announced during a ceremony held yesterday at the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate’s annual meeting, an initiative that mobilizes business leaders to advance water stewardship, sanitation, and the Sustainable Development Goals and was attended by the winners along with the Embassy of Colombia’s Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Assad Jater.

Dr Márcia Balisciano, RELX Group’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, said: “The RELX Group Environmental Challenge is a tangible way we advance our unique contributions as a business; we are using our expertise and convening power to support two outstanding projects that will bring improved water and sanitation to those most in need. It supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 6 focused on clean water and sanitation, and is featured on the RELX Group SDG Resource Centre, which we recently launched to make critical news, research, tools and events related to the SDGs freely available." 

The $50,000 first prize winner, eWATER uses leading-edge mobile and contactless payment technology for accountable revenue collection and data management, to sustain urban and rural water systems throughout the developing world.  Nearly 40% of all water points in Africa are broken due to a lack of revenue or operational means to manage maintenance; more people in Africa have access to a mobile phone than to clean water.  eWater therefore uses mobile money and Near Field Communication (NFC) pre-payment to enable low cost, transparent collection of user fees for each litre of water consumed.  They operate in the most remote communities deploying live cloud reporting to ensure a community’s water supply system is always working. Following successful piloting in nine villages in Tanzania and Gambia, they will use the prize to expand into three villages situated in Upper River and Lower River of The Gambia, installing 60 eWATERtaps and repairing three large solar pumped water systems, benefitting over 8,000 people.

“eWATER is absolutely thrilled to win the RELX Group Environmental Challenge 2017.  By ensuring all user fees are fully accountable and 100% of revenue is collected and used for operation and maintenance, eWATER assures citizens that their fees are used efficiently and transparently to sustain their water systems.  Our goal at eWATER is to transform a billion lives by guaranteeing access to clean water” said Alison Wedgwood, CEO, eWater.

Colombia’s Aeropurifier, a wholly wind powered solution to desalinate brackish water and designed by scientist and engineer Juan Carlos Borrero won the $25,000 second prize.  Requiring no external power source, chemical treatment or electronic components, Aeropurifier produces 528 gallons of potable water per day for communities in arid regions.  The ease of manufacture, assembly, operation and maintenance without the need for highly trained engineers provides a possible worldwide, low-cost solution to desalination.  By the close of 2018, 400 additional units will be installed in Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula where a pilot has delivered four years of potable water, now certified and has already benefitted 12,000 people.  The project will involve indigenous communities and local and national government.

Both eWater and Aeropurifier will gain free access for one year to RELX Group business Elsevier’s ScienceDirect, the world’s largest database of full text, scientific information, including 367,000 articles in environmental science.  Both projects will also be highlighted in Water Research, an Elsevier journal.  In addition, RELX Group businesses LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Reed Exhibitions will offer training on HPCC, a platform to facilitate analysis of large datasets and information on relevant shows.

A shortlist of four projects was chosen from more than 80 original applications from 25 countries, across six continents.  The winning projects are replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative, emphasising solutions with practical applicability. The Challenge’s distinguished panel of judges included Dr Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology and Valerie Labi, Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for iDE and founder of Sama Sama, a sanitation social enterprise in Ghana which uses a direct sales approach to increase people's demand for improved toilets and aggregates local businesses in order to match supply.

To find out more about the Environmental Challenge, previous winning projects and a view a short film on the 2016 first prize winner, LooWatt, visit

Further information on RELX Group’s corporate responsibility activities can be found at

For enquiries contact:
Mirième Hill, RELX Group

Notes to Editors

About RELX Group Environmental Challenge

The RELX Group Environmental Challenge was launched in 2011 and is awarded to projects that best demonstrate how they can provide sustainable access to safe water where it is presently at risk and/or access to improved sanitation. Projects must have clear practical applicability, address identified need, and advance related issues such as health, education, or human rights. According to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 663m people were without safe drinking water, while more than 2.4bn people did not have adequate sanitation facilities in 2015. Poor access to safe water and sanitation contributes to health crises in many developing countries, and increasingly leads to violent conflict.  Since 2011, RELX Group Environmental Challenge has awarded $500,000 to projects in more than 10 countries across three continents.  

About RELX Group

RELX Group is a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs approximately 30,000 people of whom almost half are in North America. RELX PLC is a London listed holding company which owns 52.9% of RELX Group. RELX NV is an Amsterdam listed holding company which owns 47.1% of RELX Group. The shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX and RENX. The total market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €36bn, $42bn.