Paulson Institute Announces Finalists for 2019 Paulson Prize for Sustainability

Beijing, China—The Paulson Institute announced today the three finalists for the 2019 Paulson Prize for Sustainability. These projects, based in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Ordos are recognized for providing innovative, market-based solutions to promote low carbon growth in China. The winner will be announced in Beijing at a ceremony on November 21.

Launched in 2013, the Paulson Prize is awarded annually to a project in China that provides an innovative, scalable, and market-based solution at the intersection of economics and the environment by the Paulson Institute and Chinese partners. The Prize aims to support China’s transition to a low carbon economy. China is the largest carbon emitter in the world, and serves as a model for other countries seeking solutions to promote economic growth while being conscious of protecting the environment.

This year, the Paulson Prize received a record number of submissions, doubled from last year. The increase reflects growing awareness around the Paulson Prize as well as China’s increased focus on sustainable growth and urbanization.

The independent jury committee, chaired by former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley evaluated submissions against the Prize criteria that measures the overall environmental impact, creativity, financing models, and improvements to quality of life. The judges also stressed the scalability of the submissions to ensure that the projects could be replicated in other parts of China and internationally. In September, the committee visited the finalists to tour and evaluate the merits of the projects in making their final determination.

Projects from the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Ordos were selected as the three finalists of the 2019 Paulson Prize.

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Shenzhen Ecological Energy Park (Shenzhen, Guangdong)
The Shenzhen Ecological Energy Park was built to be an industry-leading waste-to-energy facility that uses advanced technologies to lower harmful emissions and eliminate the need to use fossil fuels for power generation by turning waste directly into electricity. In 2018, the project saved more than 360,000 tons of standard coal.

This project also represents an innovative solution to waste management, a process that most people would rather have located away from their homes. The Energy Park is not an industrial eye-sore, but rather an ultra-modern facility that serves the community in a variety of ways. With beautifully landscaped grounds, engaging public education space, and a visitor center for eco-tours, the facility is today a gathering place for the community.

Balancing the need for clean energy and efficient waste management in a location that fits into any city or town, the Energy Park’s clean incineration technology makes waste-to-energy opportunities a possibility for communities far beyond Shenzhen.

Project Double Million: Plastic Waste Recycling and Reprocessing (Guangzhou, Guangdong)
Project Double Million uses advanced technology from Kingfa Technology Co., Ltd to recycle plastic waste into high-performance reprocessed plastic for use in new consumer products, such as electronics, textiles, home appliances, and automobiles. Most of the plastic recycling techniques today can only produce low-end plastics that never return to their original form. This project’s technique is innovative in that it processes plastic waste that can actually return to its near-original quality, significantly reducing the amount of new plastics that must be produced.

Using Kingfa’s technology and a steady stream of recyclable goods, this model is replicable anywhere in the world and promises impressive results. The project in Guangzhou, for example, has produced more than one million tons of eco-friendly high-performance reprocessed plastics, saved three million tons of oil, 1.4 million tons of standard coal, 50 tons of water, and reduced overall carbon emissions in the area. As the world combats plastic waste, this project offers a real, replicable solution to an emerging environmental crisis.

Triple-Carbon Circular Economy Project (Ordos, Inner Mongolia)
The Triple-Carbon Circular Economy Project is reversing the loss of arable land due to desertification in Inner Mongolia by working with farmers to implement a sustainable model with economic and environmental benefits. First, farmers plant a sand shrub forest, then waste from the shrubs is used for biomass thermal power generation (wood burning), producing 180 million kWh of electricity and eliminating 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Gas discharged from the power generation process is then used to grow spirulina, a type of blue-green algae that is considered a health supplement.

The project grows exponentially as the shrub forest continues to expand, increasing raw materials to burn, therefore increasing the power output capacity and the spirulina production. To date, the project has covered 667 square kilometers of desert, generating annual revenues of US $19 million (RMB 130 million). With 600,000 square kilometers of water-bearing deserts in China, there is a significant opportunity to replicate the Triple-Carbon model on a much larger scale.


About the Paulson Institute
The Paulson Institute is a non-partisan, independent “think and do tank” dedicated to fostering a US-China relationship that serves to maintain global order in a rapidly evolving world. Our focus on US-China is dictated by the reality that it is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world. We often operate at the intersection of economics, financial markets, environmental protection, and policy advocacy, in part by promoting balanced and sustainable economic growth. Founded in 2011 by former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the Institute is based in Chicago with offices in Washington and Beijing.

About Tsinghua University
Tsinghua University was established in 1911. With the motto of “Self-Discipline and Social Commitment” and the spirit of “Actions Speak Louder than Words,” Tsinghua University is dedicated to the well-being of Chinese society and world development. At present, the University has 14 schools and 56 departments with faculties in science, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, history, philosophy, economics, management, education, and art. The University has now over 25,900 students, including 13,100 undergraduates and 12,800 graduate students. As one of China’s most renowned universities, Tsinghua has become an important institution for fostering talent and scientific research.