During a ceremony in Trondheim, Norway on Friday, the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS) will bestow the Gunnerus Sustainability Award — the world's first major international award for work on sustainability — on India-born Dr. Kamal Bawa, Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He will receive the Gunnerus Gold Medal and the award of 1 million Norwegian Kronor (about $190,000).
Dr. Bawa is most noted for, among other works, his pioneering research on population biology in rainforest areas. His wide span of work includes groundbreaking biological discoveries made in Central America and in the Western Ghats and the Himalayas in India. He is specially noted for the establishment, and as president, of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in Bangalore. Until recently, he also held the Ruffolo Giorgio Fellowship in Sustainability Science and Bullard Fellowship at the Harvard University.
The Gunnerus award is the first major international prize for outstanding scientific work that promotes sustainable development globally, and will be awarded every two years starting in 2012, a press release said. The award is named after DKNVS’ founder, Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus (1718-1773), and is the result of a collaboration between DKNVS, Sparebank1 SMN and the society Technoport. DKNVS has been responsible for the international launch, and the selection of the winner.
The selection of the winner took place after a jury process in which five internationally prominent researchers have considered a number of international nominees from many countries.
“We are very pleased to have selected such a worthy winner of the first Gunnerus award,” the release quoted Professor Kristian Fossheim, president of DKNVS as saying.
Norway as a country is associated with the term "sustainability" from former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland's report to the U.N. Now its environmental capital, Trondheim, has established the world's first major award in the globally important new research area of sustainability. It should also be noted that the award will be given at the 25th anniversary of the Brundtland report, and may be regarded as a celebration of that event.
“DKNVS aims to make this a global price of quality and importance worthy of comparison to the Nobel Prizes in science,” Mr. Fossheim added.
Dr. Bawa told a Norwegian newspaper that he was very pleased over the recognition. “A large part of my work during the last several years has been the establishment of ATREE, a non-profit conservation and development research think-tank in India. In January 2011, a University of Pennsylvania study ranked ATREE 19th among the environmental think-tanks in the world, and implicitly the first in Asia, and now the Gunnerus Award. I am naturally very happy," he said.