The José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation presented its International Civil Engineering and Development Cooperation prizes in a ceremony presided by H.M. the King and attended by the Minister of Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna; the winners were Japanese engineer Shigeo Takahashi and a project by NGO Ayuda en Acción that ensures water supply to rural communities in the Bolivian Andes.
The International Awards in Civil Engineering and Development Cooperation, granted every three years by the José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation, are leading international awards in the engineering field whose main goal is to acknowledge this discipline's direct influence on societal development and wellbeing.
As well as recognising the winning project, the José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation Development Cooperation Prize assists with its execution through a 300,000 euros endowment.
The Civil Engineering Award is intended to provide public recognition to a lifetime achievement in the professional, teaching or research fields by a person who has made a substantial contribution to Civil Engineering in any of its specialised fields, thereby helping it to better contribute to meeting society's needs.
The winner in this edition, Shigeo Takahashi, is an engineer who is an expert in coastal engineering, disaster prevention and tsunami studies. He currently chairs the Coastal Development Institute of Technology, and he was previously President of the Port and Airport Research Institute (PARI), an independent institution whose aim is to improve the development of technologies related to port and airport efficiency.
The Institute has carried out considerable research into tsunamis in order to predict and prevent their effects by increasing coastal communities' resilience to these phenomena. As PARI's President, Shigeo Takahashi collaborated in early impact assessments of such tsunamis as those in India (2004) and Japan (2011) to facilitate immediate action and accelerate the recovery.
The award aims to highlight the human side of engineering and raise awareness of the role it plays in social progress.
The winner of this fourth edition, submitted by Ayuda en Acción, is a water capture and storage network which includes the construction of a dam, 15 earth catchment ponds and 30 ferro-cement ponds that will benefit more than 2,000 people in Azurduy, an area in Bolivia where water scarcity has created food insecurity and chronic malnutrition. Water availability in the area had been greatly reduced in recent years as a consequence of climate change.
The Civil Engineering category was awarded, in past editions, to leading international figures such as Leslie E. Robertson, who pioneered the use of computer applications to design skyscrapers, such as the structure of the Shanghai World Financial Center building, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, and the Twin Towers in New York City; Giuseppe Lombardi, whose principal projects include large hydropower plants and dams in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Mexico and Ecuador; and Jörg Schlaich, whose work includes significant projects in Spain, such as the memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack in Madrid on 11 March 2004. The previous awards in the Development Cooperation category were granted to the "Solidarity water" project of Bomberos Unidos sin Fronteras, which consisted of building a drinking water treatment and clean water supply system for the Expetroleros Community in an underdeveloped area in the Peruvian Amazon region; the "Practical Action" organisation for their project to connect 24 isolated villages in Nepal; NGO "Rescate Internacional" for the construction of water infrastructure in Ethiopia; and the "Campesinos para el Desarrollo Humano" association, for the construction of a light bridge for vehicles in El Salvador.