13 August 2010

Wilberforce Award

Reposted from the Wilberforce Award website

'Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most recognised individuals. After a successful business career in retailing and publishing, Dick has become well known as a restless adventurer, making many pioneering and record breaking flights by helicopter, aeroplane and balloon.

He has also been active in public service having served as Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and later as chair of the Civil Aviation Safety Board. He led the National Council for the Centenary of Federation and served as an Ambassador for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Dick is a passionate supporter of environmental and conservation efforts and since 1995 has been Chairman of the Australian Geographic Society. Less well known is his work as a philanthropist. He is a supporter of many charities and individuals in need. In recognition of this he was honoured as Australian of the Year in 1986.

Dick has never been shy to take on controversial issues, from aviation safety to support for refugees and the campaign to return David Hicks to Australia.

Recently he has involved himself in another contentious issue- Australia’s population future. Concerned about our expected rapid population increase, Dick is calling for a national debate on what he considers to be the most important issue facing the nation.

It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and it’s younger people who will pay the price. Like many people my age, I’ve benefited from a long period of constant economic and population growth – we are addicted to it. But sooner or later this consumption growth will have an end. We appear to be already bumping against the limits of what our planet can sustain and the evidence is everywhere to see.

Right now I believe we could be sleepwalking to catastrophe because we are failing to both acknowledge that there are limits to growth in a finite world and to prepare for a more sustainable way of organising our economy. In the 19th Century, empires were built on the labour of slaves, and it was believed economies would collapse if slavery was abolished. But brave people like William Wilberforce fought to end the slave trade – and economies still flourished. We need brave people like Wilberforce today, and I want to encourage a new generation of clear-thinking and inspiring young leaders.

So today I am announcing Dick Smith’s Wilberforce Award – $1 million to go to a young person under 30 who can impress me by becoming famous through his or her ability to show leadership in communicating an alternative to our population and consumption growth-obsessed economy. I will be looking for candidates whose actions over the next year show that they have what it takes to be among the next generation of leaders our incredible planet so badly needs.

Candidates will need to have a firm belief that we can have a viable and strong world economy that is no longer obsessed with growth for its own sake, but instead encourages both a stable population and sustainable consumption of energy and resources. They must be able to communicate that we cannot continue to squander the resources that will be needed by future generations, and they must also be able to communicate a plan that offers an alternative to our growth addiction.

Like the Nobel Prize, you will not apply for the Wilberforce Award. Over the next twelve months I will be following the media throughout the world to see who is the most outstanding individual in not only making a significant contribution to this important issue, but who also becomes famous through his or her contribution to the debate.

One year from now I will announce the winner of the $1 Million Wilberforce Award. The Award will go towards advancing the momentum the winner will have already achieved.'

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for spreading the word about this. It's great to see more people in the public spotlight breaking the taboo on addressing overpopulation and the unsustainability of endless economic growth.

    Dave Gardner
    Producing the documentary
    Hooked on Growth


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