Photo: Mark Bryant Photography, Missoula, MT
The theme of the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development in 2013 is “Nature’s services and ingenious solutions”. People and society are entirely dependent on having access to clean water, food, energy, materials and waste processing systems. All these services are provided to us by the earth’s natural environment. They were developed over billions of years, but their real worth is seldom acknowledged. Nature also has a fantastic ability to adapt to change and design ingenious solutions, something that we can learn a lot from. This year's theme links these aspects of humans’ relationship with nature. “Nature’s services and ingenious solutions” is about understanding, valuing and taking inspiration from nature.
In light of this, the 2013 prize of SEK 1 million will be divided between Pavan Sukhdev and Janine Benyus, who have both made significant contributions in this area.
Pavan Sukhdev has brought into focus the enormous, elusive values represented by the global ecosystem and biodiversity. He has done this, in part, as leader of the groundbreaking study The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). By promoting a wider perspective that goes beyond the monetary values of the ecosystem to include more elusive aesthetic, spiritual, cultural and recreational values, the work of Pavan and the TEEB group has aroused wide interest among decision-makers. For example, the TEEB provides a key source of reference to the UN in its efforts to get ecosystem services included in national accounts by 2018. The TEEB perspective has also played an important role at a national level as well as for individual organisations and businesses.
Pavan Sukhdev has a strong position in the international banking and finance sector and is a leading expert in biodiversity. The high credibility that this has earned him in a wide variety of circles has strongly contributed to the success of his work. With a humble approach to the issues in focus and enormous commitment, Pavan has promoted issues regarding the value of ecosystem services within the UN and EU, thus putting these issues on the international agenda.
Pavan Sukhdev receives the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development for his role as a bridge-builder, and for his ability to present and bring international focus to this important area.
Janine Benyus has disseminated knowledge of biomimicry through her writing and enterprise, with great commitment and communicative skill. Biomimicry is a science that explores how people can learn and draw inspiration from nature’s solutions in order to create sustainable innovations. Janine has a unique ability to shift focus away from concerns about environmental degradation to the beauty of nature, thereby encouraging innovative thinking and action.
With biomimicry, she complements the technical perspective that often dominates environmental debate. Her achievements and systematic work methods have helped bring about cross-border meetings between biologists, technicians and designers to find smart solutions inspired by 3,8 billion years of development. Janine is a co-founder of the organisation Biomimicry 3.8 and the online resource Ask Nature, through which she and her colleagues explain, for example, how the humpback whale’s tail fin inspired the design of effective wind power plants, how termite hills provided the idea for self-cooling office buildings in Zimbabwe, and how nature inspired entire waste water treatment systems.
Janine Benyus receives the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development for demonstrating, with great creativity, knowledge and conviction, how nature solves its challenges without impairing conditions for future generations, and how people can learn and draw inspiration from 3.8 billion years of design brilliance.