German Sustainability Award honors Lily Cole

Dec 20, 2021 · 3 min read

More than ever, role models are needed who drive change and use the crisis as an opportunity for real transformation. The Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis (German Sustainability Award) awards the best minds and the most effective concepts. It rewards pioneering contributions to the transformation towards a sustainable future. The prize aims to motivate all important actors of change, to network them across borders and to stimulate partnerships. It shows the best examples of how ecological and social progress can be achieved more quickly.

The German Sustainability Award was presented for the 14th time on 2 and 3 December, 2021, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Honorary Award winners

Hans Joachim “John” Schellnhuber, the Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute, was honored for his enormous influence on science, politics and business as a result of his early calls for sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. The focal points of his work include climate impact research and Earth system analysis.

Our Co-founder, Lily Cole, received an Honorary Award for her ongoing dedication to climate and human rights activism. Besides her work at Impossible, Lily has written a book, Who Cares Wins, which is a thought provoking look at some of the most challenging issues that are facing the world and challenges the reader to respond to them in some way, however small.

Lily is Patron of the Environmental Justice Foundation and has worked with The World Land Trust & WWF. She was also recognized for her work at COP26 this year for organizing the Real World Leaders on Climate listening sessions which amplified the importance of Indigenous and local communities and highlighted the words and organizations of these Indigenous speakers whose lifestyles are models of sustainability.

“It was an honor to be given an award at the German Sustainability Awards, alongside the climate scientist Professor Joachim Schellnhuber (who — amongst other things — helped raise the alarm about the risks of climate tipping points) and sicherheim (“a safe home for women”).

I feel a little uncomfortable accepting an award for environmental work, (that work is never meant to be about me), so I wanted to take this opportunity to try to shine a light on Zarifa’s work: she is an inspiration.”

Zarifa Ghafari was the youngest female mayor to be elected in Afghanistan focussing on women’s rights and the environment (through, for example, a trash clearing project). Zarifa has been living in Düsseldorf, Germany, since September 2021. She joined Lily on stage to share stories of what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan now, the impacts felt by the climate crisis there (especially the droughts), and how she continues to try and support women there from afar.

Other prize winners this year include EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, actor Forest Whitaker and singer Billie Eilish.

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