The Blue Planet Prize, an international award considered to be equivalent to an “Environmental Nobel Prize,” is awarded by the Japanese foundation Asahi Glass to personalities who stand out in research and formulation of public policies in the environmental area.
Each year, the Foundation selects two winners, individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to solving global environmental problems. This year, the winners of the 2021 Blue Planet Prize were Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka) and Veerabhadran Ramanathan (USA).
Born in Sri Lanka, Professor Munasinghe pioneered innovative concepts like the integrative, transdisciplinary ‘Sustainomics’ framework, sustainable development triangle (environment, economy and society), ‘balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG)’ and ‘millennium consumption goals (MCGs)’.
As Vice-Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 — becoming the first Sri Lankan to do so. His ideas have contributed to several key global treaties on environment and sustainable development.
He is an old boy of Royal College, Colombo, and obtained his BA honors in Engineering, and MA from Cambridge University, UK. Prof. Munasinghe also holds the SM and Professional EE degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, a PhD degree in Solid State Physics from McGill University, Canada, an MA degree in Development Economics from Concordia University, Canada, and several honorary doctorates.
Prof. Munasinghe is the author of over one hundred scholarly books, and about four hundred technical papers in well-known scientific journals, and fellow of several leading global academies of science.
Prof. Munasinghe said he was “deeply grateful and honored” to receive the Blue Planet Prize 2021, the premier global environmental sustainability award, which symbolizes Japan’s Asabi Glass Foundation’s commitment to a better future.
“I am indebted also to many who have contributed generously to my intellectual development and emotional intelligence, including teachers, mentors, colleagues, family and friends.” Prof. Munasinghe said.
“It is encouraging to learn that the award committee has specifically acknowledged several key concepts I developed and their practical application worldwide, during almost 5 decades. My research interests have evolved, from basic disciplines like engineering, physics and economics, to application sectors like energy, water, transport, ICT, and environmental resources, and finally to multidisciplinary topics like poverty, disasters, climate change and sustainable development. This eclectic experience helped me develop Sustainomics, as an integrative, trans-disciplinary methodology. Drawing on my past work and the global platform provided by the prestigious Blue Planet Prize, I will continue my modest efforts to make our planet more sustainable for all,” he added.
This year’s fellow recipient of the Blue Planet Prize, Veerabhadran Ramanathan is a renowned climate and atmospheric scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
According to the Asahi Glass Foundation, each recipient is presented with a certificate of merit, a commemorative trophy, and 50 million Japanese yen in prize money.
The Award Ceremony is scheduled to take place on Oct. 6, 2021 at Tokyo Kaikan. Commemorative lectures will be given on Oct. 7 and 9, 2021, at United Nations University (Shibuya Ward, Tokyo) and at Kyoto University, respectively.