2013 – Janine Benyus

On the theme Nature's services and ingenious solutions

In 2013 the award was shared equally between Pavan Sukhdev from India and Janine Benyus from the U.S.A.

Janine Benyus has a degree in natural resource management and English literature, which she combines in her work as she disseminates knowledge of biomimicry while teaching interpretive writing.

Biomimicry is a science that explores how people can learn and draw inspiration from nature’s solutions in order to create sustainable innovations. Benyus has a unique ability to shift focus away from concerns about environmental degradation to the beauty of nature, thereby encouraging innovative thinking and action.

With biomimicry, she complements the technical perspective that often dominates environmental debate. Her achievements and systematic work methods have helped bring about cross-border meetings between biologists, technicians and designers to find smart solutions inspired by 3,8 billion years of development. Janine is a co-founder of the organisation Biomimicry 3.8 and the online resource Ask Nature. , through which she and her colleagues explain, for example, how the humpback whale’s tail fin inspired the design of design of wind turbines and fans –  to improve their efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Jury's motivation

The theme of the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development in 2013 is “Nature’s services and ingenious solutions”. People and society are entirely dependent on having access to clean water, food, energy, materials and waste processing systems. All these services are provided to us by the earth’s natural environment. They were developed over billions of years, but their real worth is seldom acknowledged. Nature also has a fantastic ability to adapt to change and design ingenious solutions, something that we can learn a lot from. This year’s theme links these aspects of humans’ relationship with nature. “Nature’s services and ingenious solutions” is about understanding, valuing and taking inspiration from nature.

In light of this, the 2013 prize of SEK 1 million will be divided between Pavan Sukhdev and Janine Benyus, who have both made significant contributions in this area.