South African wins Frontiers Planet Prize

The International Champions of the Frontiers Planet Prize 2023 have been announced during the Awards Ceremony at the Frontiers Forum Live.

The International Champions of the Frontiers Planet Prize, a new global sustainability competition chaired by Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, have been announced. The Prize recognizes and rewards scientists whose research contributes to the future of the planet within the framework of the nine planetary boundaries.

The prize winners include:

  • From South Africa, Prof Mark New, University of Cape Town, Research article: “Nature-based solutions in mountain catchments reduce impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow.” Published in Communications Earth and Environment, 2022.
  • From United Kingdom, Prof Carlos Peres, University of East Anglia, Research article: “Sustainable-use protected areas catalyze enhanced livelihoods in rural Amazonia.” Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021.
  • From China, Prof Baojing Gu, Zhejiang University, Research article: “Abating ammonia is more cost-effective than nitrogen oxides for mitigating particulate matter 2.5 air pollution.” Published in, 2021.
  • From Netherlands, Dr Paul Behrens, Leiden University, Research article: “Dietary change in high-income nations alone can lead to substantial double climate dividend.” Published in Nature Food, 2022

The jury determined that Professor New (South Africa) and Professor Peres (United Kingdom) were awarded CHF 1 million each. A tie between Professor Gu (China) and Professor Behrens (The Netherlands), meant they were awarded CHF 500,000 each. All the funds allocated to each of them are intended to be used to support their research.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the National Representative Body (NRB) for the Frontiers Planet Prize and nominated Prof Mark New for the Prize.

The competition was officially launched on 22 April 2022 —Earth Day— by the Frontiers Research Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose mission is to accelerate scientific solutions to live healthy lives on a healthy planet.

The competition engaged 233 universities across six continents, 13 national academies of science, and an independently run jury of 100 sustainability experts, chaired by Professor Johan Rockström.

On this year’s Earth Day, 22 April, the second edition of the competition was launched, aiming to increase the participation of scientists, research institutions and national academies across the globe, with the goal to continue mobilising the scientific community for solutions to keep us within the boundaries of our planet’s ecosystem.