2009 – Søren Hermansen

In 2009 the Göteborg Award celebrated its ten-year jubilee. This year, the prize highlighted the need for more sustainable cities and urban environments and was shared equally between three people who within their own specific contexts had answered to the enormous challenges that come with the global urbanization. The award winners were: Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Tanzania, Enrique Peñalosa, Colombia and Søren Hermansen, Denmark.

Søren Hermansen, with a background in environmental studies and organic farming, was as the Director of the Samsø Energy Academy the primus motor and focal point of the foundation of the so-called Samsø Project in Denmark. Samsø, a Danish island with some 4,000 inhabitants, won the national competition on which island that first would become self-sufficient through renewable energy within ten years. Hermansen’s enthusiastic leadership – founded on a grassroots perspective – had at the time resulted in eleven land-based and ten ocean-based wind generators as well as a number of district heating power plants driven by burning hay or wood chips.

Moreover, Søren Hermansen was named one of Time Magazine’s 2008 “Heroes of the Environment” and his ideas worked as a source for inspiration around the world.

Jury's motivation

Our jubilee prize, one million Swedish crowns, is shared equally between Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Tanzania, Enrique Peñalosa, Bogotá, Colombia and Søren Hermansen, Samsø, Denmark.

Each one comes from a separate continent and they are, locally and globally, knowledgeable, engaged and impatient doers. They are ambassadors for one of the most decisive factors for humanity – the battle for sustainable development in the cities and towns around the globe. These urban environments are already home to half the people in the world, they represent 75 percent of all energy consumption and generate 80 percent of all greenhouse gases. The problems are extremely complex and require urgent but long-term stable solutions.

"The Göteborg Award – 'The Nobel Prize in Environment' – celebrates its ten year jubilee in 2009. We are thrilled to award our jubilee prize to these brilliant visionaries, strategists and system transformers,” said Stefan Edman, at the time Chairman of the Award Jury since its conception in 2000.