Speech by the head of the Jury and the Board Elin Enge

Oslo Sophie Prize Ceremony June 12, 2002

Your Eminencies, Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I have the great honour of formally announcing that:
The Sophie Prize 2002 has been awarded to His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.

This fall we will witness a new world summit for the Environment, in Johannesburg, South Africa. 10 years have passed since the  previous summit in Rio de Janeiro, that gave birth to the concept of sustainable development, the Convention on climate and on biodiversity and numerous other environmental commitments. In 1992 there seemed to be political will to address the serious environmental threats.

In 2002 we can all see that implementation has failed seriously. Unrestrained consumerism and egocentric greed has become fashion and commonly accepted as a part of the neo liberal economic globalisation trend. The widening gap between the rich and poor, climate change caused by human activities, increasing pollution and waste problems, world wide,- all these issues give cause for alarm and urgently call for moral leadership.

There is a desperate need for a revival of spiritual values and solidarity across boarders and generations. The world needs “green voices” that speak with authority and wisdom, that can mobilize the required political will needed to act upon the immense challenges we face.

This year's Sophie Prize Winner , Patriarch Bartholomew, one of the worlds most prominent religious leaders, has been awarded the prize for his spiritual and practical ecumenical leadership in the protection and healing of the Earth.

Known as the “Green Patriarch”, His All Holiness has taken lead among all religious leaders in his concern and active care for the environment. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken boldly out against injustice, inequity, and excessive consumption.

His All Holiness is the 270th successor to the Apostle St. Andrew, and the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christian faithful worldwide. After ascending the Ecumenical Throne in 1991, he has helped the Church to expand on many fronts. Through his vision of spiritual revival expressed through active mobilisation for justice and peace, he has contributed to the realisation that the Orthodox Church, today, is one of the fastest growing Churches in the world.

His All Holiness is profoundly committed to the protection of the natural environment and sees this concern as a natural outgrowth of his role as religious and spiritual leader. He has challenged peoples of faiths to reflect on their obligations towards nature. Believing that caring for the earth is essential to faith itself. “To commit a crime against the natural world is sin”, he has stated.

Patriarch Bartholomew points to the link between justice and equity and the protection of the natural environment. He has stated: “Consuming the fruits of the earth unrestrained, we become consumed ourselves, by avarice and greed“.

His All Holiness has spoken out against many political leaders that undermine the Kyoto agreement, describing their actions as: “self-centred behaviour, a symptom of our alienation from one another, and from our common existence”.

Patriarch Bartholomew has a truly global perspective, but is highly critical of the current economic globalisation process. This is reflected in his address to the World Economic Forum in Davos 1999, where he stated that globalisation widens the gap between the rich and the poor and undermines non-economic values such as survival and culture. ”Globalisation as a means of making humanity homogenous, of influencing the masses and causing a single, unified and unique mode of thought to prevail, will find us opposed”, he warned.  He promises to rally “progressive” forces for a globalisation that encourages diversity, respect and unity.

The Jury of the Sophie Foundation has decided to grant the Sophie Prize 2002 to His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, on account of:

  • His pioneering efforts in linking faith to the environment, thus reminding all people of faith of their direct responsibility to protect the Earth.
  • His spiritual and practical environmental leadership, managing to raise the environmental awareness among 300 million faithful of the Orthodox Church worldwide and challenging religious leaders of all faiths to do the same.
  • His tireless efforts to bring attention to both rights and obligations, criticising both the overconsumption in the first world countries and the lack of justice that causes growing inequity in developing nations.

Thus he has truely shown the true sence of ”Sophia”, which is the greek word for wisdom.

I now have the great pleasure of inviting the Norwegian Minister of Environment, Mr Børge Brende, to come forward to hand over the Sophie prize of  2002, to His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.