sustainability awards

Sustainability Awards

Research in sustainability is important. And MDPI is offering two awards this year to support research in the realm of sustainability. The first of these prizes is the World Sustainability Award, which will award a total prize of USD$100,000, and is entirely funded by the MDPI Sustainability Foundation. The second prize, the Emerging Sustainability Leader Award is funded by the MDPI journal, Sustainability, and will award a prize of USD$20,000.

Why Do Sustainability Awards Matter?

Research requires a number of different things; it needs expertise, it needs time, and importantly, it needs resources. Staffing, supplies, and more all require financial investments, and while there are often many avenues for researchers to get those resources, they aren’t always sufficient. MDPI’s Sustainability Awards aim to help support exciting research to accomplish their goals.

For example, Anet Rezek Jambrak, the Emerging Sustainability Leader Award winner for 2021 had this to say about what the award helped them to do:

“The Award helped me to pursue activities on sustainability in food research, food science and processing, and to set foundation for future digitalisation collaboration with experts in the interdisciplinary field.”

The 2018 World Sustainability Award winner, Mathis Wackernagel, addresses some of the more intangible benefits of the award, saying:

“It may not be possible to link the award to one specific thing, but the fact that we have been recognized by various influential bodies, including yours, has lead to more invitations, higher-profile projects, and more public engagements. We are working on a topic many feel weary about, so having received positive recognition lowers the anxiety level of potential collaborators or partners. This is what we particularly appreciate about the award.”

Do Awards Help Research?

Basically, yes, an award will always be of benefit to a research team. For quite a few reasons: financial reward and being able to promote their research, for example, but it also helps to draw attention to the core issue. This will help promote scientific dialogue and the exchange of information.

Jeffrey and Sonia Sachs, World Sustainability Award winners from 2017 mentioned that,

“[They] felt enormously honored to be recipients of this award in 2017 and talk about it often in public and [in] expert discussions.”

This helps to create awareness of both issues and the awards (and its associated benefits). They further note,

“The award facilitates our discussions with others about the importance of Sustainability, especially Sustainable Development, highlighting the fact that it is paramount organizing principle of multisectoral research and policy recommendations.”

Another previous recipient, Jianguo Jack Liu notes the importance of money being free from external interests:

“The award money can help support research without strings attached.”

Along with awards, the ability to present research to others is a great boon to researchers. There are other ways in which you can learn about or participate in the World Sustainability Forum.

Be sure to visit sciforum for additional information and resources about World Sustainability Forum or the prizes mentioned in this article.

Overcoming Barriers in Research

As Mathis Wackernagel notes,

“We lack sustainability because there are barriers to implementing it. Therefore any opportunity to highlight that sustainability is truly an advantage for cities, companies or countries is a huge amplifier – and this is how we see the award. It helps build the openness.”

It is deeply important to ensure that barriers (of all sorts) are overcome. Some of these barriers exist in the messaging of research , but other cases might be in its implementation.

Learning from those who have come before us, about their experiences and challenges, is a very valuable lesson to learn. To learn how best to use resources to overcome barriers, we can turn to past World Sustainability Forums, as well as to previous winners of these awards.

Bradley Hiller, the Emerging Sustainability Leader Award recipient in 2018, observes some of the ways in which receiving the prize helped him to overcome barriers,

“The award supported my ongoing research interest to understand the dynamics of achieving transformational change at scale in support of sustainable development principles. The award contributed to my receipt of three subsequent fellowships.”

Oftentimes, funding can make the difference between research being done or not, so it’s important to make sure that important research is well funded.

MDPI Sustainability Foundation

The MDPI Sustainability Foundation’s initial aim was to preserve the diversity that is crucial for academic research and its wider global implications. The focus was, initially, limited to the preservation of chemical compounds through the deposit and exchange of rare molecular and biomolecular research samples. Since then, one of MDPI Sustainability Foundation’s main goals has been to promote scientific dialogue and the exchange of information among interested organizations.

We hope that sustainability continues to grow in interest and that these awards continue to support change.