The Frontiers Research Foundation launched the science publisher Frontiers and the kids’ journal, Frontiers for Young Minds. Now we are launching the Frontiers Planet Prize.
We are confronted with an environmental crisis on a planetary scale. Finding solutions will require scientifically informed action by us all: politicians, economists, business leaders, scientists, engineers and billions of citizens worldwide.
Awareness of the magnitude of this challenge must increase dramatically among everyone. Leading universities, funders and national academies will need to be mobilized all around the world to fund and find scientific solutions. Investors and businesses will need to be ready to bring these solutions to the market. Communicating the science of sustainability to policy-makers will need a major upgrade, because what’s at stake is still too easily overlooked, dismissed or drowned out by poorly informed debate.
Business as usual in all areas of society will not get us there.
To go beyond business as usual, the Frontiers Research Foundation is launching a new international science competition, beginning in 2022, with CHF 3 million in prizes. Our goal is to spark a race for breakthroughs in sustainability science.
A prize for breakthroughs in sustainability science that have measurable potential to help humanity remain within the boundaries of our planet’s ecosystem.
The nominations come from leading universities, national academies and funding agencies in each country, making it effectively an international science competition between universities and nations.
A Jury of 100 leading sustainability scientists will be voting, first for one National Champion in each country, and then for three International Champions.
The International Champions will each receive the Frontiers Planet Prize of CHF 1 million to support their research. With this prize we hope to:
The Frontiers Planet Prize is built around the tipping points that cannot be crossed if we want to ensure the stability of the Earth’s ecosystem.
Sustainability experts have identified nine tipping points where irreversible runaway changes to the planet become unstoppable. These planetary boundaries have been described in detail by Johan Rockström and Owen Gaffney in their book and documentary on Breaking Boundaries. Planetary boundaries paint both a clear picture of the challenges humanity faces and act as a call to action. The Frontiers Research Foundation is rallying behind this call to action.
It is not only scientists who are being mobilized. Business communities are starting to prioritize green tech solutions. A rise in the global average temperature of 1.5⁰C above the historical average is the highest-priority tipping point that spells disaster for the planet. Bill Gates, in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, has elegantly outlined a roadmap to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The other tipping points, such as those for the ozone, oceans, biodiversity and the air we breathe, are equally important because in an interlinked system, crossing one boundary drives us closer to all the others.
The Frontiers Research Foundation is recognizing exceptional scientists who are making significant contributions toward a sustainable planet. We want to help accelerate their scientific solutions for sustainability. We also want to help policy-makers and business leaders facilitate and accelerate the adoption of scientific breakthroughs.
The Foundation is beginning with three Frontiers Planet Prizes of CHF 1 million each, for breakthrough sustainability science reported in the period 2021 to 2022. If the program is successful in sparking an international race for scientific solutions for sustainability, it will be expanded each year to include prizes for breakthroughs related to each of the nine planetary boundaries.