The Fundación MAPFRE Social Outreach Awards ceremony held at the Casino de Madrid on June 12 served, among other things, to confirm that, far from showing signs of waning after these ten long years in existence, this contest is clearly in an excellent state of health. The fact is that this eleventh edition aroused even greater interest, anticipation and admiration than ever, something that is reflected both in the number of initiatives presented (681 nominations from all over the world) and in the media attention it received. These awards are thus firmly established as a national and international benchmark event when it comes to acknowledging the work of individuals and institutions who stand out for their generosity, solidarity and commitment to society in the scientific, cultural and social spheres.

As on previous occasions, Her Majesty Queen Sofía presided over the event which was also attended by the Economics and Business Minister, Nadia Calvin, with the journalist Pedro Piqueras acting as master of ceremonies. Opening the event, the Fundación MAPFRE President, Antonio Huertas, declared that “we’re living in the most important times of social transformation in our history.” Truly profound changes, he went on, in which “technology helps us overcome many diseases and social barriers, but which reveal there is still so much to be done.” The Fundación MAPFRE President stressed how social commitment is a shared responsibility and he encouraged all of us to help build “a more human, supportive world.”

In this appeal, Mr. Huertas was particularly addressing business leaders, calling on them to act with responsibility and values, while stressing that profitability and ethics must go hand in hand. “Economic objectives cannot be achieved by any means. Businesses must strive to achieve a world that is increasingly inclusive, fair and caring,” he stated. In this regard, the Fundación MAPFRE president urged everyone to follow the example of those who, without doubt, are already treading this path: the winners of this edition, all of them proving disruptive in their respective spheres of activity.

Projects such as AGRINDUS, Award for the Best Agricultural Initiative, a new category introduced in this edition. The production of milk and other foods in a more local, natural manner, so as to make a decisive impact on the health of consumers, is the overriding aim of this already veteran Brazilian company. On receiving the award, its CEO Roberto Jank underscored the pressing need to commit to more sustainable production models, in which “we use nature’s limited resources – such as water or soil – more efficiently.”

Surgery in Turkana, Mary’s Meals, AGRINDUS and Emilio Aragón were the winners of the various categories at the eleventh edition of these awards

The Award for the Project with the Best Social Impact went to Surgery in Turkana, a project set up in 2004 by four surgeons at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid. It brings hope, in the form of medical care, to one of the poorest regions of the planet. Thanks to the volunteering work of the numerous Spanish doctors now participating in this project, last year saw 836 patients receiving treatment and 260 surgical procedures being performed in this area of northern Kenya. As its founder Elena Mendía explained, this work combines science, health, justice, life and dignity. Because “health is what makes us all equal,” as Dr. Mendía summed it up on collecting the award.

And, if there is one determining factor affecting people’s health, this is undoubtedly their diet. Providing meals at school to children who would otherwise go without. This is the aim of Mary’s Meals, the Entity with the Best Track Record in Social Causes. Founded in Scotland in 2002, this organization is now present in 18 countries and, last year, was responsible for 1,425,013 children being fed daily in school canteens. This is a project that mobilizes communities wherever it is introduced and allows mothers to become much more involved in their children’s education. “The children are really keen to study, but they simply can’t on an empty stomach,” declared Elisalex Löwenstein, the organization’s president in Spain, who expressed her gratitude for an award that “makes the world aware of the reality of these children.”

Someone who is fully acquainted with the problem of child hunger is this year’s winner of the José Manuel Martínez Lifetime Achievement Award, the versatile, all-round artist Emilio Aragón. Musician, comedian, actor, movie director, producer and someone who, throughout his lengthy professional career, has also clearly demonstrated his solidarity facet, working intensely on behalf of organizations such as Action Against Hunger. On picking up his award, he had words of praise for the other winning projects. “The work carried out by institutions such as those recognized today makes me regain hope,” he affirmed. Referring to the problem of child hunger, he pointed out that “it all starts with good nutrition, especially during the first 1,000 days of life.” Aragón appeared optimistic when he stated that the current generation “is the first one that could really end hunger in the world.” On the other hand, he warned of the information overload issue to which we are all exposed, as it can lead to the message being diluted. “Events like this give us the chance to remind society that there is a serious problem in the world: hunger.”