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The Sophie Prize 2008

 is awarded to

Professor Gretchen C. Daily

Stanford University, California

"The mass extinction of plants and animals that we are experiencing today is absolutely unprecedented in human history." Gretchen C. Daily

The efforts of the renowned American biologist to find solutions for how we can take care of the world’s species and ecosystems attract great attention internationally. Some has compared her to Rachel Carson, the mother of the global environmental movement in the 1960s.

Can efforts to save the environment also be economically profitable? Definitely, according to Daily. It is possible to use market forces in the fight against the loss of biological diversity and destruction of our eco-systems. The American biologist is visionary and focused on finding practical solutions; she is radical in her thinking and pragmatic in her approach. Her recommendations include action that can be taken on a local and international level.

Gretchen Daily (b. 1964) is established as one of the world’s forerunners in the debate on sustainable development and conservation of biological diversity. As a scientist she has shown that there are different ways to put a value on nature. She has shown us that there are also economical arguments for conserving species and eco-systems and demonstrated how this dimension can be included in political decisions. She is an outstanding scientist with a personal strength that has contributed with a new depth and with to the eco-system thinking/approach.

Daily has a remarkable ability to translate basic scientific findings to practical recommendations and action. In the book The New Economy of Nature (2002) she shows in a range of concrete examples how it is possible to transform the economic system in a more sustainable way and that the economic advantages of doing just this. She shows, for instance, how local communities can be awarded for taking care of natural resources, how you can choose new, natural capital approaches to purifying drinking water supply, securing people from flooding, ensuring sustainable eco-tourism, and protecting cultural values.

Daily is involved in these issues on a global scale, and she has worked with many different regions and issues in this field. At the moment she is chairing a big project in diverse areas where biodiversity is threatened, focused initially on aligning economic incentives with conservation in four contrasting places:  China, Tanzania, California and Hawaii. Here she cooperates with economists, lawyers, business and governmental agencies to make a positive change for the environment.

Among several high ranking awards she is elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Gretchen C. Daily has said: ”People say you cant put a price on the priceless, and I agree, nature is priceless. But if we don’t, it’s like an all you can eat buffet: People go whole-hog and it is gone. So I see it as quite elegant - and an incredible challenge - to find ways of harmonizing our day-to-day economic activities with supporting our life-support systems.”

The Chair of the Sophie Foundation, Gunhild Ørstavik, states: Gretchen C. Daily’s radical and constructive involvement, her ability to communicate these issues to a wider public, her extensive knowledge and scientific merits make her an important and worthy recipient of the Sophie-prize. She has shown courage by exploring new scientific arenas and interdisciplinary linkages. Daily involvement in taking an active responsibility to create change for a sustainable development makes her fit into the mosaic of former Sophie-prize winners. It is scientists like her that give us the understanding of what it takes to change the world!”

The Sophie Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, Thursday 12. June

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends...

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends...

Thursday 12 June 2008

Speech by Sophie Foundation Board, Chair Gunhild Ørstavik. Sophie Prize Ceremony June 12th 2008.

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