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Unveiling the 2023 Rolex Laureates: Pioneers of Positive Change

Rolex has announced the recipients of their prestigious 2023 Laureates for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. 

These five remarkable pioneers are set to embark on ambitious projects aimed at improving lives while safeguarding our planet for future generations. Established in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Oyster, the world's first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise have become a cornerstone of innovation and environmental stewardship. Initially conceived as a one-time celebration, the overwhelming international response prompted Rolex to transform the awards into a biennial programme. Over the past 48 years, this initiative has supported 160 Laureates whose projects have left a lasting impact across 65 countries.

Aligned with Rolex's Perpetual Planet Initiative, these awards reflect the brand's enduring commitment to environmental conservation and scientific exploration. Through this initiative, Rolex supports individuals and organisations dedicated to understanding and addressing the world's most pressing environmental challenges. The 2023 Laureates were selected by a panel of ten esteemed experts and leaders in their respective fields. Each Laureate has been chosen for their groundbreaking projects focusing on areas such as environment, science and health, applied technology, cultural heritage, and exploration. These projects are evaluated based on their originality, potential global impact, and the candidates' entrepreneurial spirit.

From providing clean water in Kenya to preserving the mountainous forests of the Andes, the 2023 Laureates and their respective initiatives underscore Rolex's commitment to fostering a Perpetual Planet. Each Laureate will receive funding to implement their project and will become a member of the prestigious Rolex Laureates network, facilitating ongoing collaboration and innovation. As we celebrate the achievements of these visionary individuals, we are reminded of Rolex's century-long legacy of supporting pioneering explorers and individuals who push the boundaries of human achievement. Through the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Perpetual Planet Initiative, Rolex continues to champion those who strive to make a positive impact on our planet and create a better future for generations to come.

Denica Riadini-Flesch 

The social entrepreneur will be expanding her regenerative farm-to-closet clothing supply chain, strengthening women’s empowerment, and preserving local Indonesian cultures. After a successful academic career as an economist, Riadini-Flesch founded SukkhaCitta, working with rural craftswomen in Indonesia to provide them with business skills, environmental stewardship education, and customers in 32 countries.

Liu Shaochuang 

The remote sensing specialist will be studying wild camels’ habitats in view of creating two new conservation reserves to save the last remaining wild herds. Drawing on his scientific expertise, having played a key role in developing China’s Lunar and Mars rovers, Liu Shaochuang will satellite track wild camels in the Gobi Desert regions of China and Mongolia to support their future conservation.

Constantino Aucca Chutas

The biologist will be scaling up his community-centred forest ecosystem restoration and protection programme in the high Andes. He founded Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) in 2000 and co-founded Acción Andina in 2018, and has planted 4.5 million trees, engaged more than 60 local communities, and created 16 protected areas in the mountains across Peru and other high Andean countries.

Beth Koigi

The young Kenyan social entrepreneur will be providing solar-powered generators harvesting water from the air to 3,000 people in 10 communities who are in need of clean water resources. Since co-founding her start-up in 2017, Koigi’s atmospheric water generators are producing over 200,000 litres of clean water per month to over 1,900 people. The potential impact of this innovative technology is enormous; in Koigi’s native Kenya, half the population lacks access to clean drinking water, while, according to the UN, half the world’s population could be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.

Inza Koné

The primatologist will be protecting a richly biodiverse forest in Côte d’Ivoire while safeguarding its endangered fauna and reducing poverty in the area. After years of work with people in the area, Koné’s efforts resulted in the Tanoé-Ehy Forest becoming a community-managed natural reserve in 2021. The Rolex Award will enable Koné to continue preserving its outstanding biodiversity, supporting community management, and encouraging sustainable livelihoods for people in the region.

About the Perpetual Planet Initiative 

For nearly a century, Rolex has supported pioneering explorers, pushing back the boundaries of human endeavour. The company has moved from championing exploration for the sake of discovery to protecting the planet, committing for the long term to support individuals and organisations using science to understand and devise solutions to today’s environmental challenges.

This engagement was reinforced with the launch of the Perpetual Planet Initiative in 2019, which initially focused on individuals who contribute to a better world through the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, on safeguarding the oceans as part of an established association with Mission Blue, and on understanding climate change via its long-standing partnership with the National Geographic Society.

An expanding portfolio of other partnerships embraced by the Perpetual Planet Initiative now includes: Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen in their work as conservation photographers; Rewilding Argentina and Rewilding Chile, offspring organisations of Tompkins Conservation, which are protecting landscapes in South America; Coral Gardeners, transplanting resilient corals to reefs; Steve Boyes and the Great Spine of
Africa series of expeditions, exploring the continent’s major river basins; the Under The Pole expeditions, pushing the boundaries of underwater exploration; the B.I.G expedition to the North Pole in 2023, gathering data on threats to the Arctic; and the Monaco Blue Initiative, bringing together ocean conservation experts.

Rolex also supports organisations and initiatives fostering the next generation of explorers, scientists, and conservationists through scholarships and grants such as the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and The Rolex Explorers Club Grants.

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