Blue Planet Prize 2021

By Eng. Shavindranath Fernando

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe
Honorary Life Fellow IESL, Receives Premier Global Award

IESL Honorary Life Fellow Prof. Mohan Munasinghe is the winner of this year’s Blue Planet Prize, the top international award considered to be equivalent to an “Environmental Nobel Prize”. This year marks the 30th awarding of the Blue Planet Prize, sponsored by the Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan. The Board of Directors has selected Prof. Munasinghe for having made significant contributions to the resolution of global environmental and sustainability problems.

Born in Sri Lanka, Professor Munasinghe pioneered innovative concepts like the integrative, transdisciplinary ‘Sustainomics’ framework, sustainable development triangle (environment, economy and society), ‘balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG)’ and ‘millennium consumption goals (MCGs)’. As Vice-Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 -- becoming the first Sri Lankan to do so. His work has contributed to several key global treaties on environment and sustainable development, notably the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and the 2015 UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

He is an old boy of Royal College, Colombo, and obtained his BA honors in Engineering, and MA from Cambridge University, UK. Prof. Munasinghe also holds the SM and Professional EE degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, a PhD degree in Solid State Physics from McGill University, Canada, an MA degree in Development Economics from Concordia University, Canada, and several honorary doctorates. Prof. Munasinghe is the author of over one hundred scholarly books, and about four hundred technical papers in well-known scientific journals, and fellow of several leading global academies of science.

Following the award announcement, Prof. Munasinghe said: “I am deeply grateful and honoured to receive the 2021 Blue Planet Prize, the premier global environmental sustainability award, symbolizing the outstanding commitment of the Asahi Glass Foundation to a better future. I am indebted also to many who have contributed generously to my intellectual development and emotional intelligence, including teachers, mentors, colleagues, family and friends.”

He added: “It is encouraging to learn that the award committee has specifically acknowledged several key concepts I developed and their practical application worldwide, during almost 5 decades. My research interests have evolved, from basic disciplines like engineering, physics and economics, to application sectors like energy, water, transport, ICT, and environmental resources, and finally to multidisciplinary topics like poverty, disasters, climate change and sustainable development. This eclectic experience helped me develop Sustainomics, as an integrative, trans-disciplinary methodology. Drawing on my past work and the global platform provided by the prestigious Blue Planet Prize, I will continue my modest efforts to make our planet more sustainable for all.”

Each recipient of the Blue Planet Prize is presented with a certificate of merit, a commemorative trophy, and prize money. The Award Ceremony, to be graced by the presence of their imperial highnesses the crown prince and princess of Japan and other dignitaries, will be held on 6 October 2021 at Tokyo Kaikan, followed by commemorative lectures by Prof. Munasinghe on 7 and 9 October 2021, at United Nations University, Tokyo and at Kyoto University, respectively.

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