Oscar season is upon us and all eyes fall upon Hollywood to see who will collect the little golden statues. This year’s Oscars looks set to be as formulaic as previous years with the usual culprits nominated. I have no shame in admitting that I am a sucker for the Oscars and have frequently stayed up to the early hours of the morning to watch the ceremony. My geekiness for the Oscars is only equalled by my geekiness for sustainability, so I thought I’d combine the two and award my own Oscars for achievements in sustainability for the past year. Here they are…
The ‘Meryl Streep’ Award for female in a leading sustainability role
Winner (s): Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
2011 was a great year for female leaders working on social and environmental issues. Before 2011 only 12 women had ever won the Nobel Peace Prize but in 2011 three women shared the accolade All of them taking great risks helping women around the globe.
The ‘George Clooney’ Award for male in a leading sustainability role
Winner: Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher
In 2011 there was a real emergence of the ‘CEO sustainability champion’ and competition amongst this new breed of corporate leader was fierce. Paul Polman (Unilever), Marc Bolland (M&S), Andrew Witty (GSK) are all worthy but Ian Cheshire just pips them because of his honesty and refreshing attitude.
The ‘Nick Nolte’ Award for comeback performance in sustainability
Just like Hollywood loves a comeback story so should the world of sustainability. This year Hollywood has given an Oscar nod to recovering alcoholic Nick Nolte (for a role in which he plays a recovering alcoholic). Equally last year proved a turnaround year for Nestlé. The Swiss giants frequently criticised in the past earned praise from their NGO nemesis Greenpeace for their ‘No deforestation Commitment’.
The Award for Best Film on a sustainability issue
Winner: If a tree falls: A story of the Earth liberation front
An actual nominee at this year’s Oscars this documentary film tells the story of controversial environmentalist Daniel McGowan who currently resides in a Federal prison in the US for Arson and conspiracy.
The Award for sustainability writing
Winner: Global Warming Gridlock by David Victor
This brilliant book exposes the failures and naiveties of two decades of climate diplomacy. Victor scrutinizes diplomats, scientists and campaigners equally based on his experience of international environmental law, diplomacy and policy. He makes the argument for a pragmatic and incremental approach to climate policy.
The most poignant part of any Oscar ceremony is when the Academy remembers those the industry lost in the past year and it seems fitting to do the same for sustainability. 2011 saw sustainable business pioneer Ray Anderson and visionary activist Wangari Maathai both pass away and in doing so leave the world of sustainability a sadder place. Here’s hoping that 2012 and in particular the Earth Summit in Rio will create some new sustainability heroes who’ll deserve recognition next year.