In 2011 the award was shared equally between Kofi Annan from Ghana and Sue Edwards and The Tigray Project from Ethiopia.
Dr. Sue Edwards lived and worked in Ethiopia for many years, passionate about agroecology and social justice. She was the founding Director of Ethiopia's Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), established in 1996 to promote sustainability, biosafety and community rights.
Dr. Edward worked in the rural areas of the northern Ethiopian region Tigray in The Tigray Project that highlighted the vital role of smallholder farmers for a sustainable local food supply. It started as a local initiative aimed at smallholder farmers, in particular women who cultivate small plots of land. Dr. Edwards saw the importance of combining traditional knowledge and innovation to mitigate climate change, with a specific focus on the efforts to increase the cycling of nutrients and carbon back to the soil. The project resulted in agriculture that generates more abundant harvests and higher incomes while raising groundwater levels, soil fertility, and biodiversity.
Moreover, The Tigray Project generated cooperation between the area's farmers and national experts, and its ideas spread around Ethiopia as well as its success earned international attention.
The theme for the 2011 Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is "Sustainable food supply". Cultivated land is essential to the development of society, but competition for land to cultivate is becoming much more intense. The need for food is expected to grow by some 70 percent by 2050, and there are already a billion undernourished people on the planet today. Africa is the continent with the most challenging conditions, where the soil has been depleted and productivity in farming is low. At the same time, some good examples are showing it's possible to change this trend by increasing productivity through ecological and sustainably social and financial means which can make agriculture the motor behind development in society.
This year's prize of one million Swedish kronor is awarded to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who has become a leader of Africa's green revolution and the Tigray Project, which is an excellent example of local initiative in Ethiopia – both of which visualize successful and promising efforts against poverty and for a sustainable food supply.