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Wanted: leaders in the sustainability movement

Dick Smith (yes, that one) launched the Wilberforce Award well over a year ago, hoping to find someone under the age of 30 who showed leadership in "communicating an alternative to our population and consumption growth-obsessed economy".

Smith was unimpressed by what he found, however, and the $1 million prize remains unclaimed. 

Unlike other awards, however, you can't apply directly for consideration.

"Like the Nobel Prize, you will not apply for the Wilberforce Award," says Smith.

"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."

Basically, the recipient will need to be a key part of the discourse on building a more sustainable economy.

"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."

The award is named after William Wilberforce, who fought to end slavery in the 19th century.

“It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and its 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," Smith says.

Smith will be speaking at the Tomorrow’s Business conference in September in Queenstown about the future of business and economy over the coming decades.

While tickets are $125, they're offering Idealog readers a special discounted rate of $95. Click here to book a pass at the Idealog rate, or use promo code IDEALOG95.