Scientists worldwide in line for US$1.1 million Frontiers Planet Prize as Ms Mia Strand named 2024 National Champion for South Africa

Africa Science News

Ms Mia Strand, Nelson Mandela University South Africa has been announced as the Frontiers Plant Prize national winner in her country. The recognition is based on her work onReimagining Ocean Stewardship: Arts-Based Methods to ‘Hear’ and ‘See’ Indigenous and Local Knowledge in Ocean Management. 22 other national champions were named and drawn from science research teams across six continents in the second year of the global competition.

The Prize recognizes scientists whose research contributes to accelerating solutions that ensure humanity remains safely within the boundaries of the Earth’s ecosystem. The National Champions now move forward to the final round of the competition, where three International Champions will be awarded 1 million CHF each to support their research. Launched by the Frontiers Research Foundation on Earth Day 2022, the Frontiers Planet Prize aims to mobilize science for a global green renaissance.

The  Prize rewards and promotes  breakthroughs in sustainability science that show the greatest potential to keep the planet from crossing the nine planetary boundaries, a framework put forward by Prof Johan Rockström. The National Champions are selected by the independent Jury of 100, a group of renowned sustainability and planetary health experts chaired by Prof Rockström.

These National Champions will undergo a second round of voting, where the Jury select the three International Champions who each receive one million Swiss francs to further support their research.

Now in its second edition, the Prize has engaged with 20 academies of science and 475 leading  universities and research institutions from 43 countries to showcase transformational and globally scalable research on planetary science, with a focus on enabling healthy lives on a healthy planet.

This year’s 23 National Champions represent a diverse group of researchers at various stages of their academic careers, each of whom have published groundbreaking articles that put forward unique, transformative solutions.

As National Champions, each researcher will have the opportunity to share their award-winning research through national and international conferences to facilitate the systemic change needed to safeguard our planet’s health. This is made possible through the support of the Prize’s strategic partners, including Future Earth, the Potsdam Institute of Climate Research Impact, the International Science Council, and the Villars Institute.

The Frontiers Planet Prize Award Ceremony will take place on 26 June 2024 at the Villars Symposium in Villar-sur-Ollon, Switzerland. Led by the Villars Institute, an international non-profit foundation dedicated to accelerating the transition to net-zero emissions, the Villars Symposium brings thought leaders from policy, practice, and philanthropy together.

Each Champion will present their research and engage with key planetary health figures across academia, policy, business, and non-governmental agencies, all of whom have the capability to shape policy and influence civil society.

The Symposium also includes a global cohort of system and solution-oriented high school students from schools all over the world, which will offer an additional chance to foster intergenerational collaboration and prepare the next generation to combat climate change.

Commenting on the 2024 Frontiers Planet Prize, Jean-Claude Burgelman, director of the Frontiers Planet Prize, said: “We are confronted with an environmental crisis on a planetary scale, creating a true threat for humanity. The ambition of the Frontiers Planet Prize is to directly address this crisis by mobilizing scientists engaged in breakthrough research. We congratulate the National Champions and thank all the nominees for their valuable research and ongoing commitment to saving our planet.”

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