Sawyer spearheaded the growth of the wind industry across the world over a decade of dedicated leadership at the helm of GWEC.
Between 2007 and the end of 2017, global wind installations grew from 74GW to 539GW.
He previously spent three decades at environmental pressure group Greenpeace.
Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, paid tribute: "Steve has been a constant source of inspiration and support for me over the last decade.
"More than anyone else I know, he never let the wind industry forget the fight to stop dangerous climate change and why what we are collectively doing is so important.
"He travelled and worked constantly, but he always had time to chat, and he was a loyal and caring friend. We will miss him sorely," Backwell added.
Morten Dyrholm, chairman of GWEC and group senior vice president at Vestas said: "Steve had a passion for wind like no one else I have known in my life and has been instrumental in our efforts to globalise the industry and bring wind into the centre of the global energy debate.
"This legacy should inspire us all to fight even harder and with ever more resolve to realize a 100 per cent renewable energy system. Steve has been a good friend and a great source of inspiration for me for almost 13 years, and I will miss him deeply."
WindEurope deputy CEO Malgosia Bartosik, who’d known Steve Sawyer for 15 years, praised his commitment to the industry: "It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Steve Sawyer. Steve dedicated his whole life to environmental protection and fighting climate change. He was instrumental in the development of wind energy globally.
"Steve’s passion for wind as a solution to the climate crisis that we are facing was infectious. And it will stay with us. Steve will always be in our hearts and minds and his legacy will remain an inspiration to fight for a sustainable future. We are saying good bye to our mentor and friend. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten," Bartosik added.
SGRE CEO Markus Tacke also commended Sawyer's work in the growth of the wind industry: "We are all truly saddened by the death of Steve Sawyer and our thoughts are with his family and friends, full of respect and dignity.
"I have known Steve as a real trailblazer for the wind industry and his drive and passion will be missed by all of us. His work was a real example in setting milestones how to best fight climate change and lead lasting change through renewable energy."
A memorial page has been set up for anyone who knew Steve to share their memories.
Windpower Monthly sends its condolences to all of Steve's family, friends and colleagues.