The Curt Bergfors Food Planet Prize is by rewarding 2MUSD to one single winner the largest environmental award in the world, and it can only ever go to projects within the food system. Because nothing we do as humans impact the environment in which we live more negatively than the way we eat today.
To save the Food Planet, we must accelerate change and there is no more time to waste.
The Food Planet Prize is different to other awards in many ways, not just because of its size.
The two things that we believe are most unusual about us, and that we are probably the most proud of, are which types of projects we give the prize to, and how we decide on our winners.
First of all, unlike most prizes we look primarily to award not those who have already succeeded, but rather those who will succeed, and change the world radically for the better, if only they get a chance. This might sound obvious. But if you think about most other prizes out there, they actually work the other way around, which is not necessarily that terrible. But perhaps a little bit inefficient, at least if your goal is indeed catalyze rapid change.
Second, we believe that the only way where we will stand a chance to transform our food system into one that can sustainably support us all in harmony with the environment, is to work together across the whole food value chain. This is one of those standpoints where almost regardless who you ask, people tend to agree in principle. But at the same time, almost everywhere you look, actions fail to reflect those beliefs.
For us this sits at the very center of everything we do, and our vetting process is designed to represent the whole food system. Perhaps best illustrated by our jury with its equal split in representation between people working at the very cutting edge of scientific research, policy, business and practical work in food. And where in the end, the vote of a world leading climate scientist, a farmer, or a chef, carries equal weight in deciding who will win the prize.
The Prize Process
How we evaluate our nominees and select our winner, the short version.
- All nominations are registered through the nominations form on our website. The nominations process is open all year around and there is technically no specific cut of point for the prize process of a specific year. Every nomination registered on the website is received by our own nominations team and gets evaluated based on public information against criteria such as potential impact, evidence, and relevancy for the food planet.
- We handle about 1000 nominations in a year and once you are nominated, we hold on to your nomination for multiple years and keep track of progress within your initiative. So a nominee is not in the running for just the year they were nominated, but for as long as our nominations team believe that there is a chance that the nominee could prove to be a winner.
- The nominees are inserted into our Master grid, which is a list of 400 spots, each one with a unique combination of parameters based on amongst others the geographical location of the nominee, in which part of the food system they are active, what type of innovation they are presenting and whether they are commercial or non commercial. The goal is that once we proceed with the further stages of the process, we do so with a set of nominees representing the whole world, the whole food system and a wide variety of innovations.
- From the list of 400 our nominations team proceed by selecting their 50 top picks, still respecting the balance of the list, making sure it remains representative of the whole food system. Every nominee in this selection of fifty -which is referred to as our long-list- is then evaluated more closely. We contact each one of the nominees with a set of questions and spend more time trying to really understand what they are all about, how big the potential impact of their idea could be and how likely it is that they will succeed.
- When Emily and Robert of the nominations team are completely convinced of the quality of each nominee on the Long-list, they share their selection and all the research material with the Curt Bergfors Foundation prize committee which consists of the two jury co-chairs Johan Rockström and Magnus Nilsson, and Line Gordon, member of the board. Their job is to examine the line up, give feedback if needed and finally approve the long-list from the perspective of the foundation.
- When the list is approved two things will happen. The first is that we publish it and a short editorial text about each of the selected nominees on our website. The second thing is that the nominations team will start their selection process to turn the long-list into a short list of 8-10 of the sharpest contestants that will eventually be put in front of the jury.
- When the nominations team and the prize committee can all agree on 10 candidates (this can take quite some time and entail quite some discussion) to put forward, we enter the final stage of evaluation. This consists of a full due diligence process carried out by an external auditing company where we look at each nominee to make sure that they are ready and able to receive 2MUSD if they were to win. We further commission one or two external experts per nominee in whatever field the candidate is active to carry out full scientific reviews of the evidence of the initiative and provide an assessment of the quality of the team behind it. These evaluators are in most cases top ranking academics but in some instances, for example when we are evaluating commercial ideas, very senior corporate leaders. The evaluators are anonymous and have no direct contact with the nominees, all questions are passed through our nominations team to not risk compromising the integrity of the evaluation.
- At the same time as the scientific evaluations takes place, we commission an investigative journalist and a photographer to go to each nominee to do research on them and to write a story about what they do and the context in which the nominee exists. These journalists does not get access to our own research but are asked to produce their work independently to preserve their unique perspectives and add that to the growing amount of research material.
- When all the research material has been delivered it is passed on to the board of the foundation with the question of whether they can agree that each of the suggested candidates on the short-list, could be a worthy winner of the food plane prize? The reason for this is that in the end, it is the board of the foundation that decides the winner, and as an organisation we do not want to risk putting any nominee in front of the jury, that the board would then not want to approve of if the jury were to recommend them as winners.
- All approved nominees are revealed as short-listed candidates and the research material about them is passed on to the jurors. The articles written about each nominee and the photographs of their work is used to also present them to the world through our website and that of our publishing partner Roads & Kingdoms.
- After studying the material and learning about each nominee during several internal meetings, the jury congregates in Stockholm together with the nominees that gets a few minutes each to tell the jury in person why they should win.
- In the morning of the day of the announcement of the winner, the jury meets for the last time and conducts a vote that resulting in a recommendation to the board of the foundation concerning who should win the prize that year.
- The board formally decides the winner and shares the news with the world.