This year, once again, Her Majesty Queen Sofia presided over the presentation of the five prizes that seek to highlight and show gratitude for the work of those people and institutions that, through their projects, initiatives and exemplary careers, play their part in transforming our society.
The ceremony, hosted by the journalist Pedro Piqueras, was attended by the president of MAPFRE, and the Minister of Employment, Magdalena Valerio.
The presenter kicked off the awards presentation by announcing the winner of the Julio Castelo Matrán International Insurance Award: to the Policy Incubator Project by Wharton Risk Management and the Decision Processes Center at Pennsylvania University (USA). This initiative proposes a “policy incubator” in which experts from different disciplines and sectors can work on the design and implementation of pubic policies in the field of insurance, mainly in disadvantaged areas to help increase their ability to withstand potential natural phenomena. Carolyn Kousky, who collected the award, expressed her wish that the Incubator can become a leadership center that will help put the spotlight on the problems of financing the recovery from damage caused by natural disasters. As she put it, “We want to improve the situation of communities and families and to achieve tangible improvements in people's lives”.
Next, Pedro Piqueras moved on to the Award for the Best Health Promotion Initiative granted to Fundación EHAS for its initiative “Embarazo Saludable” (Healthy Pregnancy). “Every day, 830 women and more than 7,000 newborns die due to complications related to pregnancy, giving birth or the puerperium period, 99% of them in developing countries”. It was with these words that María Jesús Ledesma started her acceptance speech after collecting the award. The project, that has already provided care to over 16,000 women in Guatemala, is based on an innovative model to improve care for pregnant women in isolated areas. According to Ledesma, “The recognition that Fundación MAPFRE has given to us today with this award motivates us to carry on and doubtless to widen its outreach. We still have many challenges to overcome focused on increasing both the scale and impact of the initiative”.
The Award for Best Social Action Initiative went to Turma Do Ben, for its project “O dentista do Bem” (The Good Dentist). The prize was collected by Dr. Fábio Bibancos, the founding promoter of this initiative which started in 1995 and that today has grown to become the world's largest network of specialist volunteers, with over 17,000 voluntary dental surgeons who provide free treatment to children and young people with limited financial resources between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. Right now, the voluntary network operates in 14 countries. In his thank-you speech, Dr. Bibancos stated that “providing basic care to an individual is to restore their humanity. Providing a smile represents returning their health, happiness and expectations from life”.
Next, Pedro Piqueras, master of ceremonies for the Awards introduced the Award for the Best Accident Prevention Initiative. The award was made to the Organization of American Firefighters (OBA), he largest organization in the world for international cooperation among firefighting associations. In the almost twelve years since it was founded, the OBA has given free on-site training to hundreds of firefighters and, through its Virtual Academy, to nearly 20,000 firefighters in 37 countries. Carlos Ferlise who collected the award on behalf of the organization, wished to highlight the two pillars on which the organization bases its mission. The first: to avoid, through prevention, that emergencies actually arise. The second: to train firefighters to a high technical level but also to display great human sensitivity. Ferlise finished his speech by expressing his gratitude for the recognition given to the “most invisible part of our work, but the most essential: the passion for caring for our communities on an everyday basis”.
Lastly, the José Manuel Martínez Martínez Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Vicente del Bosque González, whose achievements need no introduction. Beyond being a major figure in the world of national and international sport, Vicente del Bosque has a highly developed social conscience, focused on providing support and raising the visibility of those groups in need of greater care. With this more charitable side, what stands out are his contributions to research into rare diseases, his support for people with Down Syndrome, his cooperation with non-profit charity organizations, his involvement in the preservation of the environment and his commitment to children, especially boys and girls forced live with an illness. In his speech, Vicente del Bosque thanked Fundación MAPFRE for believing him worthy of the award and he stressed the importance of raising the visibility of people with disabilities stating “nothing is born perfect and nothing is perfect. We must all bear that in mind. In a society like ours, I believe the least we can do is all join forces so that everybody embraces the concept of difference. And not only in Spain, but throughout the world”.