Speech by the head of the Jury and Board Elin Enge

Oslo Sophie Prize Ceremony June 15, 1999

The 1999 Sophie Prize has been awarded to A Challenge to Economic Globalisation

This year the Sophie Prize has set focus on the adverse effects of economic globalisation and the consequences for the environment and the wellbeing of people. Herman Daly, USA and Thomas Kocherry, India, winners of the 1999 Sophie Prize, have both in their own right fought against the empoverishment of nature, nations and local communities, driven by present free-trade policies that is based on standard lowering competition. Booth of the award winners has given substantial contributions towards a sustainable development by pointing at viable alternatives to the present practises. Herman Daly through the introduction of an economic theory that respects the limited carrying capacity of nature. Thomas Kocherry through the empowerment and mobilisation of national and international fishermen an women, fighting practically for their rights and the protection of marine resources.

Herman Daly stresses that "Sustainable development is development without growth" and thus radically challenges the present economic theory and policies.
He has stated that: "Our Economy has grown so large relative to the system, that its demands threaten to overwhelm the ecosystems natural capacities to generate resources and absorb wastes. That means that the path of economic progress must shift from growth (quantitative expansion) to development (qualitative improvement)."
He has sounded a caution to trade policies that base competition on weakening environmental, social and safety standard to give cheapness.
Herman Daly has thus the relationship between economy and ethic's.

Thomas Kocherry challenges centuries of economic exploitation driven by colonialism and transnational companies, that are seeking profit for the few rather than wellbeing for the many. He has for over 25 years fought against the destruction of local fishing communities both in India and world-wide, and mobilised millions of poor people in a struggle to stop the over-fishing by factory ships internationally. An over-fishing triggered by unregulated operations of industrial fleets now moving to the South as regulations have been introduced in the North.
The World Food Organisation (FAO) has confirmed that 70 % of the world's marine fish stocks are at the limit of exploitation or totally depleted posing serious nutritional problems for millions of people.

They both strive for a fair distribution of economical and natural resources for this and future generations.

The Jury of the Sophie Prize has put emphasis on a number of pressing socio-economic issues that have framed the selection of this year's winners:

  • The need to create world-wide awareness of, and mobilize against, the negative consequences of economic globalisation and its destructive effects on nature and society. As illustrated in the ongoing negotiations in the World Trade Organisation and the increased opposition by the international civil society.
  • Industrial fisheries show evidence of how free trade market drain natural resources and destroy local environments and societies.
  • As a major fishing nation Norway holds a special responsibility for putting an end to the exploitation of the worlds marine resources.
  • Sustainable development requires alternative models and theories, political mobilisation as well as practical change at local level.
  • Standing on the threshold of a new millenium, we are faced with the pressing challenge of managing to integrate economics, with ecology, ethic's, equity and quality of life. It can be done if there is political will and courage to do so.

Herman Daly is Professor of Economics at the School of Public Affairs, at the University of Maryland. He worked as senior economist at the World Bank for six years, but left after a growing conflict with the World Banks export-led, globalizing development philosophy, and failure to take sustainable development seriously. He has written several books on alternative economics, amongst others, "Economic, Ecology, Ethics" (1989), "For Our Common Good" and "Beyond Growth" (1996). He serves on the board of directors of the Bejer Institute for Ecological Economics of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, and of the World Watch Insitute.

Thomas Kocherry is a priest, lawyer and trade union leader. He holds university degrees in chemistry, zoology and botany. He lives in Kerala, India and has struggled for 25 years to secure the rights and livelihood for local fishermen and -women. He has built the national coastal fishermen's organisation in India and is presently the General Co-ordinator of the "World Forum of fish-harvesters and Fish-workers" (www.south-asian-initiative.org/wff). This is the world's first international organisation for coastal fishermen, involving over 30 countries. He has lead several peaceful demonstrations, amongst others, against sales of quotas to foreign trawlers and against the GATT agreement.

We are honoured by having the presence if both these distinguished gentlemen at this ceremony.