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Winners of Global Economy Prize Announced

Honored as pioneers of a cosmopolitan, economically liberal, and public-spirited society, this year’s laureates are:

  • Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF),
    Category: Politics
  • Bas van Abel, founder and CEO of Fairphone B.V.,
    Category: Business
  • Prof. Robert Shiller, Ph.D., American economist, Nobel prizewinner, and best-selling author,
    Category: Economics

The winners were announced to the press today by Prof. Dennis Snower, President of the Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Dr. Ulf Kämpfer, Mayor of the City of Kiel, and Consul Klaus-Hinrich Vater, Vice-President of Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Commerce and President of the Kiel Chamber of Commerce.

“This year’s recipients have a record of exceptional achievement in their respective fields and have triggered far-reaching changes at the global level. In tackling global problems, all three have stressed the importance of individual responsibility and the need for cross-border cooperation in order to improve both the economic and social well-being of all people. Our prizewinners therefore represent one of the Institute’s central concerns and the core idea behind the Global Economy Prize,” said Dennis Snower, commenting on the jury’s choices.

He lauded Robert Shiller as an economic pioneer who had dispelled the notion of rational investors and efficient markets that are self-correcting and always return to equilibrium. “Robert Shiller shook the foundations of economic theory and changed our thinking, while also correctly predicting both the dotcom bubble and the real estate bubble,” Snower said. Shiller’s goal has always been to find practical applications for his research and to improve people’s lives. Snower continued: “When Shiller discovered that many people forgo investing in securities due to their inexperience with risk mitigation strategies, he offered free online courses to help more people access securities and thereby reduce income inequality.” Shiller has thus demonstrated rare commitment to freedom of thought and action and to the responsibility each individual has for themselves and society, he added.

“Klaus Schwab is a political strategist of the first order and a far-sighted visionary,” said Kiel’s Mayor, Ulf Kämpfer, describing this year’s winner in the Politics category. Back in the early 1970s, Schwab was already promoting a multi-stakeholder approach, stressing that business and political initiatives can only be successful if all the affected parties are involved in the decision-making process. “With this approach, he created a systematic framework that contributes toward addressing global problems and finding collaborative solutions that benefit all parties,” said Kämpfer. Schwab’s ideas are impressively demonstrated in practice at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which he founded, where time and again representatives of mutually hostile governments have entered into dialogue with each other.

“Enterprise requires courage and vision, Bas van Abel has both,” said Chamber of Commerce President Klaus-Hinrich Vater, describing the winner in the Business category. “He aims for more than just commercial success, he seeks to get people thinking and to change society.” Innovations like the internal combustion engine and social network Facebook have shown that a product can radically transform society. “But Van Abel turns that on its head by asking: how do I want to change society, and what product will get me there?”, said Vater. “Van Abel manages to reconcile running a commercially successful company with pursuing his wider aspirations. His Fairphone generates greater awareness among users and improves the working conditions of those involved in making mobile phones. He has become an international role model and an inspiration for all business leaders.”

The Global Economy Prize award ceremony will be held on Sunday, June 17, during the Kieler Woche festival, at the IHK Haus der Wirtschaft building in Kiel. All three laureates are expected to attend.

Additional information about the prizewinners