Bai, Otto, and Persson awarded the Global Economy Prize 2021

The award ceremony took place today in the town hall of the state capital Kiel. The prize was awarded for pioneering a cosmopolitan, free-market, and social society and for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental, climate, and nature protection:

  • Prof. Xuemei Bai, Ph.D.
    Professor of Urban Environment and Human Ecology, Australian National University, Canberra
    Category: Economics.
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Otto
    Entrepreneur, Founder, and Chairman of the Otto Group Supervisory Board
    Category: Business.
  • Dr. Göran Persson
    Former Minister President of Sweden
    Category: Politics.

    Karin Prien, Minister for Education, Science, and Culture of the State of Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel’s Lord Mayor Ulf Kämpfer, Klaus-Hinrich Vater, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Schleswig-Holstein, as well as Gabriel Felbermayr, President of the Kiel Institute, welcomed the approximately 150 guests.

    In his speech and laudations to the prize winners, Felbermayr emphasized their services to sustainable economic action and living in terms of climate protection.

    Among other things, he emphasized the practical benefits of Bai’s academic work. “You don't wait for policy makers to act, instead your urban sustainability experiments encourage small groups in society to initiate programs themselves that contribute to sustainable development.“

    Addressing Göran Persson, Felbermayr said: “In contrast to other countries, Sweden has been extremely successful in reducing greenhouse gases under your leadership. Ways to achieve the goal were, for example, the taxation of fossil fuels, the expansion of bioenergy, the expansion of the rail network, and the financial support of local environmental projects.”

    Turning to Otto, Felbermayr said: “From the very beginning, it was a matter close to your heart to prove that entrepreneurial success and a sustainable corporate strategy committed to environmental protection do not represent a contradiction, but can go hand in hand even in a company exposed to international competition.”

    The Global Economy Prize is awarded since 2005 by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and its partners, the City of Kiel and the IHK Schleswig-Holstein. The prize is meant to inspire creative solutions to the global economic challenges of our time. It is awarded annually to influential personalities in politics, business, and science, who have made an outstanding contribution to establishing a just and protective society based on individual initiative and responsibility. The award carries no prize money.

    Prof. Xuemei Bai, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Development and Human Ecology, Australian National University, Canberra:

    “I am truly humbled and honored by this recognition. COVID19 has taught us many lessons. It reminds us of the vulnerability of our modern way of life and reminds us of the value of having urban parks and nature near us during lock down. We still have a long way to go—both in terms of theory and practice—until our cities can become more sustainable and resilient and provide high levels of healthcare and wellbeing to all of their citizens. Building better cities is essential to better future for all.”

    Prof. Dr. Michael Otto, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Otto Group:

    “This wonderful award reinforces my commitment to climate action, as climate action is the most important of all the Sustainable Development Goals, as it influences almost all the other Sustainable Development Goals.

    The next German government must ensure that pressing issues such as the energy transition, circular economy, and lengthy approval processes are addressed and resolved. We owe it to future generations.”

    Dr. Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden:

    “It is the right thing to pick environmental economics as central theme of this year’s Global Economic Prize. Climate change is happening right now and economy has to change fundamentally. Such a transformation is never easy, but it also offers a big chance for society. The next progressive stride in economic growth will be taken just because we are forced to make it ecological sustainable.”

    Karin Prien, Minister of Schleswig-Holstein:

    “This year, the three award winners exemplify the challenging issues of climate protection and sustainability. Committed personalities like Göran Persson, Michael Otto, and Xuemei Bai are needed to drive these issues forward and at the same time demand their implementation. This year's Global Economy Prize is thus once again a statement.

    I am pleased that we are sending this signal from Schleswig-Holstein by awarding the prize. This is in the best spirit of the prize, which is awarded by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. It is good to have this expertise in Schleswig-Holstein.”

    Dr. Ulf Kämpfer, Lord Mayor of the state capital Kiel:

    “I am very pleased that we are able to award the Global Economy Prize again after a year's break. The award ceremony is an important platform for intellectual dialogue between economics, politics, business, and society. And a look at the previous prize winners shows how closely the prize is linked to current issues of global importance. I am very pleased that we can now add three high-class prize winners to this list. With their contributions and impulses, they help to find answers to the big questions of our time—and that also far beyond Kiel or Kiel Week.”

    Klaus-Hinrich Vater, President of the IHK zu Kiel and Vice President of the IHK Schleswig-Holstein:

    “Ecology  versus economy—this sharp contrast has long ceased to exist in the reality of entrepreneurs. Questions of attitude and generational responsibility are leading more and more companies to concern themselves very intensively with environmental, climate protection, and resource issues. Whether as founder of the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection or co-founder of Foundation 2°—German Businesses for Climate Protection, Michael Otto is an outstanding entrepreneurial personality who was firmly committed to the idea of sustainability before the topic arrived in the middle of society.”

    For more information about the Global Economy Prize and this year's winners, as well as photos of the event, visit