2011 – Sue Edwards Tigray project

Food supply project Tigray in Ethiopia

Cultivated land is essential to the development of society and competition for land is intensifying. The need for food is expected to grow by some 70 percent by 2050 while there are already a billion undernourished people on the planet today. Africa is the continent with the most difficult conditions. However, it’s possible to change this trend by allowing agriculture to become the motor behind development in society through ecological and sustainable social and financial means.

For this reason the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development 2011 is awarded to a person and an organisation for their work in the field of sustainable food supply.

The prize of one million Swedish krona is shared equally by:

  • The former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who has become a leader of Africa’s green revolution.
    •   The Tigray Project, which started out as a local initiative aimed at small farmers in northern Ethiopia and has resulted in both better harvests and less environmental impact.

“I can think of nothing more worthy, vital or sensible to give the award to than sustainable food supply in combination with fighting against poverty and developing society. I am also very pleased that Kofi Annan and Sue Edwards from the Tigray Project want to come to Gothenburg and share their exciting experiences with us,” says John Holmberg, Chairman of the Gothenburg Award and Vice President at Chalmers University of Technology.

The Göteborg Award was founded in 1999 by the City of Gothenburg and several businesses with the following aim: to stimulate further development and recognize strategic work in sustainable development, nationally and internationally.

The Award is funded by the City of Gothenburg together with the Second Swedish National Pension Fund, Carl Bennet AB, Elanders AB, Eldan Recycling, Folksam, Götaverken Miljö, Handelsbanken, Nordea, Peab, Schenker AB and SKF.

This is the twelfth time the prize has been awarded and the winners will receive their prize at an award ceremony later on this year in Gothenburg.


The theme for the 2011 Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is “Sustainable food supply”. Cultivated land is essential to the development of society but competition for land to cultivate is becoming much more intense. The need for food is expected to grow by some 70 percent by 2050 and there are already a billion undernourished people on the planet today. Africa is the continent with the most difficult conditions, where the soil has been depleted and productivity in farming is low. At the same time some good examples are showing it’s possible to change this trend by increasing productivity through ecological and sustainably social and financial means which can make agriculture the motor behind development in society.

This year’s prize of one million Swedish krona is awarded to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who has become a leader of Africa’s green revolution and the Tigray Project, which is an excellent example of local initiative in Ethiopia.

The  Tigray Project  in northern Ethiopia receives the award for its long term and systematic work to develop sustainable farming built on local resources. Since 1996 the Tigray Project has resolutely worked in an area with impoverished soils, hit hard by erosion and droughts, to turn the tide. The project is aimed small farmers, in particular women who cultivate small plots of land. It has resulted in agriculture that generates larger harvests and greater incomes while raising ground water levels, soil fertility and biodiversity.

The cooperation between the area’s farmers and national experts is a good exchange of knowledge and experience which increases the knowledge and competence of everyone involved. The Tigray Project’s success has earned it international attention, and experience gained from the project is now being spread in 165 districts in the grain belt of Ethiopia.

  • Award ceremony

Wednesday 14 December, 14:00–17:00

Eriksbergshallen, Gothenburg

The Gothenburg Award Seminar 2011 will introduce AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the Tigray project, as well as a panel discussing “Sustainable Food Production in Africa – Opportunities and Challenges” with a particular focus on the relationship between growth and sustainability – is it possible to achieve? The seminar will also discuss opportunities and challenges for Swedish companies and organizations to be present and take part – also on commercial terms – in the sustainable development of sustainable societies and food supply chains in Africa.

Agriculture can be a significant driving force for sustainable development in society, through ecological, social and financial means. This is of particular importance in Africa, where the conditions are difficult and an increasing number of people are facing hunger.

The topics will be discussed by a panel with extraordinary knowledge and experience of the field:

  • Lena Ek, Minister of Environment of the Swedish Government, former Member of the European Parliament and the Committee on Industry, Transport, Research and Industry
  • Göran Djurfeldt, professor, Lund University, expert in development of the African agricultural sector, smallholders, markets and policies
  • Svante Axelsson, Secretary-general of Swedish Association for the Protection of Nature
  • Marie Louise Elmgren, head of communication, Zoégas
  • Dr Tesfai Tecle, Special Advisor to Kofi Annan, Agra
  • Sue Edwards, initiator of the Tigray Project

The seminar will be moderated by Annika Åhnberg, former Swedish Minister of Agriculture. Jan Eliasson, former Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, will make a brief presentation.

The Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development 2011 has been awarded to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and chairman of AGRA, Mr Kofi Annan, and to the Tigray Project in Ethiopia – both of which visualize successful and promising   efforts against poverty and for a sustainable food supply.

The seminar will be followed by the Award Ceremony, with the presence of Mr Kofi Annan and Ms Sue Edwards, initiator of the Tigray project.

        • Award ceremony

Participants of the award ceremony:
Kofi Annan and Sue Edwards
Jan Eliasson, former chairman of the General Assembly of the U.N.
Annlie Hulthén, chairman of the Gothenburg Award
John Holmberg, chairman of the jury of the Gothenburg Award
Lena Ek, Secretary of the Department of Environment
Carl Bennet, vice chairman of the Gothenburg Award
Marie Louise Elmgren, head of communication, Zoégas
Moderator: Anna Åhnberg

        • Entertainment

Marching for life med  Triple & Touch Star Choir  från Sydafrika

The jury’s  motivation

Sharing economy has been flourishing around the world in recent years. We have seen how information technology has made possible smart platforms that allow material assets to be used more efficiently by sharing resources and services. This gives more people access to resources, while at the same time reducing consumption of natural resources.

Sharing resources makes it possible, for instance, to transport goods more efficiently and to make public transport a more efficient way for people to travel. New ways of collaborating through open networks, the possibility of grassroots funding for projects, the ability to share information or even get free access to education online, are opening up new opportunities for global development to more and more people.

With this year’s theme the jury wants to highlight the opportunities that sharing ownership and information offer for sustainable development.

The Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development goes this year to Park Won-Soon, Mayor of Seoul in South Korea, one of the world’s first sharing cities.

Under the leadership of Park Won Soon, Seoul has  taken a global lead in developing ”a sharing city”. With  his background as a human rights activist, Park Won  Soon has also integrated social issues into his work. As  a pioneer in this area, Seoul has developed various forms  of effective sharing by changing regulations, mobilising  the city’s underused resources and making information  readily accessible. The city has also raised public awareness  and supports companies and initiatives in the  sharing of information and assets. Park Won Soon has  been Mayor of Seoul since 2011 and is a prominent figure in the process of creating better opportunities for sharing  resources and information.

Park Won Soon will attend the ceremony by a video link. The Vice Mayor of Seoul will accept the award in his place.

Peter Hennicke has been called Germany’s ”bishop” within energy efficiency and has been a pioneer of the energy transition, die Energiwende. Already in 1985, Peter Hennicke wrote the book “Die Energiewende ist möglich”.

Peter Hennicke’s research and participation in governmental expert groups has greatly influenced the country’s development. He has clarified to decision makers at various levels that it requires a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency for an energy transition to take place. Even more, Peter Hennicke has managed to pinpoint and voice the several benefits to the society that may follow from such a transition. By managing to transfer these insights to an important audience of decision-makers Peter Hennicke has inspired those who have the power to take the important steps towards sustainability.

Peter Hennicke has held posts such as head of the leading  Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, has worked for the  UN  and is today a member of the  Club of Rome.

English businessman and opinion-former has, through his long and devoted involvement in solar energy, stimulated both debate and global influence for a sustainable energy development.

Jeremy Leggett is the founding director of  Solarcentury. Solarcentury was one of the first companies offering solar cells to the market and, thanks to Jeremy Leggett’s entrepreneurship and endurance, is today Great Britain’s largest, privately owned solar cell company. Among other things, the company handles installations for IKEA within their pilot project to sell solar cell packages. Solarcentury also donates part of its profit to  Solar Aid, an organization founded by Jeremy Leggett in 2006 with the purpose of providing access to solar-driven lamps in countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Senegal. Solar Aid is today the world’s largest distributor of solar-driven lamps.

Jeremy Leggett is a successful businessman working tirelessly for renewable energy/solar energy. His commitment is broad, ranging from writing books, driving campaigns to having the position as chairman in Carbon Tracker (a financial think tank analysing climate risk in capital markets).

Beate Weber-Schuerholz was elected mayor of the town of Heidelberg in 1990 where she, over the course of two election periods (1990-1998), laid the foundation for the leading position within energy efficiency which Heidelberg holds today among the cities of the world. Through co-operation with local business, leadership of the local authority’s energy supply company, financing of energy efficient buildings and heavy investments within public transport, Heidelberg reduced its CO2 emissions by 30 percent over the period 1993 to 2007. Today, Heidelberg is a role model within energy efficiency, it having, for example, the world’s largest passive house areas.

During the course of her term of office, Beate Weber-Schuerholz demonstrated strong leadership and an ability to organize and inspire companies, local officials and citizens. Moreover, Beate Weber-Schuerholz emphasized the economic and environmental benefit of energy efficiency. Beate Weber-Schuerholz’s commitment extended beyond the city limits through regional initiatives and to work within the EU.


The Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is given each year to people or organisations for outstanding performance and achievements towards a sustainable future. The price is 1 million swedish krona (SEK) and shows what is possible and necessary for a brighter future.

    1. For outstanding contributions towards a more sustainable future.”

The award may be given to a person or organisation that has contributed to:

  • conserving resources and/or furthering renewable raw materials or ecological solutions
  • the solution to a problem (area) that can lead to a technological breakthrough or “system change”
  • creating and/or driving a process concerning the environment which has been important for the Göteborg region as well as in a larger perspective
  • development towards greater global justice.
    • Organisation

The Gothenburg Award is administrated by an association with a board made up of the politicians Ulf Kamne, Ann-Sofie Hermansson, Helene Odenjung, president of the environmental committee  Kristina  Jonäng, businessman Carl Bennet and CEO Second AP Fund, Eva Halvarsson. Its office is located in Gothenburg.

Centre for Environment and Sustainability (GMV), is the hub for the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development organization. GMV provides the coordinator for the Gothenburg Award’s board and jury. Eva Halvarsson is a Board member of both the University of Gothenburg and the Gothenburg Award. In addition, Tomas Kåberger is a part of the Gothenburg Award jury and a Professor at Chalmers.

      • Some of the things we do:
  • Certify the event according to the City of Gothenburg environmental diploma.
  • Serve organic & Fairtrade labeled coffee.
  • Cooperate with the organization Fairtrade City Gothenburg in our effort to use more fair trade  labeled products.
  • Only serve vegetarian and seasonal foods and drinks during the event.
  • Serve meals with at least 70% organic ingredients.
  • Do not serve bottled still water, but prefer local tap water.

Chilean architect wins Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development of SEK 1 million

Architect Alejandro Aravena has won the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development of SEK 1 million. “Aravena is an innovative Chilean architect who, along with his colleagues in the ‘Do Tank’ firm Elemental, applies a design philosophy based on making inhabitants part of the solution instead of regarding them as a problem – building bridges of trust between people, companies and governments.”

This is part of the jury statement regarding the winner of the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development. Alejandro Aravena, 49, is based in Santiago, Chile and is noted for his work in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Elemental is an operational think tank that works to develop strategies and produce good-value housing for economically disadvantaged groups. They operate similarly to a traditional think tank, but they also implement ideas and visions and work to combat segregation, for instance through socially and environmentally sustainable production of economical new housing. Their concept includes providing home buyers with information that enables them to build part of the house themselves. This allows more people to build houses in areas where they would otherwise not have been able to afford to live.

In 2016, Aravena won the Pritzker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious architectural awards. In the same year, he was invited to be Director of the Venice Architecture Biennale. He will receive the Award on 22 November at Draken, Folkets Hus in Gothenburg. His colleagues from Elemental will also attend the award ceremony. Seminars and lectures will be organised during the award winner’s visit.

The complete motivation from the jury and more information about Mr Aravena and Elemental can be read here.