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The Frontiers Planet Prize unveils its champions

Frontiers Foundation launched the Planet Prize to recognize and reward exceptional scientists working in sustainability science.

The International Champions of the Frontiers Planet Prize, a new global sustainability competition chaired by Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, have been announced. The Prize recognizes and rewards scientists whose research contributes to the future of the planet within the framework of the nine planetary boundaries.

The Frontiers Planet Prize rewards key science for the future of Humanity on Earth, of how to navigate our future within Planetary Boundaries. This is a recognition that we now need to become stewards of the entire planet, and scientifically seek insights and scalable solutions that can transform the world within Earth’s safe operating space”.

Johan Rockström, chairman of the jury

The ISC acted as a National Representative Body (NRB) and facilitated submissions from universities, science academies and funding agencies from regions and countries without an NRB, thereby ensuring participation from all parts of the world. 

“The Planet Prize Champions are today’s Champions of the Planet. They demonstrate science in action, science for sustainability and science for a new moral pact with our planet. The International Science Council is proud of supporting the Prize. We look forward to working with the Foundation in the coming years so as to capture and capitalize on scientific knowledge for sustainability, with a focus on knowledge generated in the global south and from a wide variety of actors”.

Salvatore Aricò, CEO, International Science Council

The prize winners include:

  • From South Africa, Prof Mark New, University of Cape Town, Research article: “Nature-based solutions in mountain catchments reduce impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow.” Published in Communications Earth and Environment, 2022.

  • From United Kingdom, Prof Carlos Peres, University of East Anglia, Research article: “Sustainable-use protected areas catalyze enhanced livelihoods in rural Amazonia.” Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021.

  • From China, Prof Baojing Gu, Zhejiang University, Research article: “Abating ammonia is more cost-effective than nitrogen oxides for mitigating particulate matter 2.5 air pollution.” Published in, 2021.

  • From Netherlands, Dr Paul Behrens, Leiden University, Research article: “Dietary change in high-income nations alone can lead to substantial double climate dividend.” Published in Nature Food, 2022

The competition was officially launched on 22 April 2022 —Earth Day— by the Frontiers Research Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose mission is to accelerate scientific solutions to live healthy lives on a healthy planet.

The competition engaged 233 universities across six continents, 13 national academies of science, and an independently run jury of 100 sustainability experts, chaired by Professor Johan Rockström.

The jury determined that Professor New (South Africa) and Professor Peres (United Kingdom) were awarded CHF 1 million each. A tie between Professor Gu (China) and Professor Behrens (The Netherlands), meant they were awarded CHF 500,000 each. All the funds allocated to each of them are intended to be used to support their research.

Twenty national finalists were chosen who shared the shortlist and were awarded as National Champions. One such champion is Professor Maria Nilsson from Umeå University, Sweden for her work on climate change and health.

“There are so many talented researchers and important projects in the world in sustainability research, so it is of course an honor to have been selected as a finalist and representative of Sweden.”

Maria Nilsson

Jean-Claude Burgelman, Director of the Frontiers Planet Prize, added

“We know that these challenges are unprecedented in human history, and therefore our planet prize 2023, must be seen as only the beginning of a worldwide mobilization to bring in as much solution-oriented science as we can.”

On this year’s Earth Day, 22 April, the second edition of the competition was launched, aiming to increase the participation of scientists, research institutions and national academies across the globe, with the goal to continue mobilizing the scientific community for solutions to keep us within the boundaries of our planet’s ecosystem.

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