Illac Diaz and his social enterprise, Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag), started the year by raising awareness on sustainable energy and set a Guinness World Record while at it!
The Zayed Future Energy Prize, established by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government in 2008 and is considered the world’s most significant award for renewable energy and sustainability, wanted to set a Guinness World Record on having the "largest environmental sustainability lesson" for students and young volunteers across UAE. The organizers tapped Illac for the task.
The Liter of Light won the seventh edition of the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015 for lighting up thousands of homes in Philippines using solar energy, and it is the only Filipino organization to have won the prestigious prize).
The lecture achieved the world record when 280 students came to hear Illac. To make a point of how the students can practice what they just learned, the Liter of Light team taught the students to assemble 2,400 solar lamps in less than 30 minutes using a plastic soda bottle and a solar battery.
In his lecture held in Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi, Illac "highlighted how young people could reduce energy poverty by finding innovative solutions to a more sustainable future," the Khaleej Times reported. The news outlet also quoted Illac telling the students, "These lamps that you assemble now will be sent to refugee camps in Yemen or Syria. It will light up hundreds of houses. When you do it, you will realise how easy it is make it, and also make a difference in the world."
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The solar lamps were then used to create the image of UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose birth centenary is being celebrated in UAE this year. It is also the 10th anniversary of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.
In a press statement, Illac said, “Liter of Light’s Guinness World Record endeavor is about more than setting a new milestone for community-built solar lighting. In organizing this large-scale action, we want to raise awareness for the millions who continue to live without access to clean energy, including the tens of thousands of Muslim Filipinos in the southern areas of Mindanao.”
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Liter of Light has already brought 131 streetlights and thousands of community-built solar lights to Marawi as part of relief efforts, but tens of thousands remain displaced by the conflict. Without access to electricity, the communities in the post-conflict zone will continue to suffer from increased vulnerability to theft and violence.