Award winners 2020

Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev

The Prime Ministers of Greece and North Macedonia, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, have achieved a feat of diplomacy by reaching an agreement in the decades-long conflict over the name Macedonia, thereby making a significant contribution to stability in the entire Balkan region.

Macedonia changed its name to the Republic of North Macedonia on 12 February 2019. This settled a conflict between the neighbours that had been bitterly fought for over three decades and had previously prevented what is now North Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union. The signing of the bilateral agreement between Greece and North Macedonia on the name issue ("Prespa Agreement") on 17 June 2018 now serves as the basis for rapprochement with the EU. Greece had not accepted the country name Macedonia, as a region in the north of its own country is also called Macedonia.

The agreement was the subject of highly controversial and polarising discussions in both countries, but was then successfully concluded. The driving force behind the agreement was the respective prime ministers on both sides. The Macedonian Zoran Zaev and the Greek Alexis Tsipras achieved a diplomatic feat with the Prespa Agreement that could have a signalling effect for the entire Balkan region. They showed that even a problem that was considered unsolvable can be solved with the will to compromise and perseverance. In doing so, the two prime ministers made a significant contribution to calming the situation in the region.

Both heads of government at the time, but especially the Greek one, subordinated their personal careers to political reason, regardless of whether they would remain in office. Without these two statesmen, there would have been no solution, the name dispute would not have ended in the long term and the neighbourly feud would have continued to destabilise the entire Balkan region.

Alexis Tsipras, born in 1974, was Greek Prime Minister from 2015 to 2019. He is the leader of the SYRIZA party. His time in office as Prime Minister was largely characterised by the Greek sovereign debt crisis.

Zoran Zaev, born in 1974 like Tsipras, was Prime Minister of North Macedonia from 31 May 2017 to 3 January 2020. Zaev resigned from office to allow for new elections. The parliamentary election was not held until July 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zaev was re-elected Prime Minister of North Macedonia on the night of 31 August. He has been Chairman of the Social Democratic League of Macedonia since 2013.

Felix Finkbeiner and the young "ambassadors for climate justice" from Plant-for-the-Planet

Plant-for-the-Planet is a children's and youth initiative that was co-founded in 2007 by Felix Finkbeiner, then a nine-year-old Bavarian schoolboy. A year earlier, a group of UN employees had launched the project, and Felix Finkbeiner and his father subsequently set up a foundation of the same name in Germany with the same aim: to raise awareness of climate change and global justice among children, young people and adults. The pupils actively combat climate change by planting trees. In this way, they make an exemplary and concrete contribution to the movements in favour of the world's climate goals.

Plant-for-the-Planet has now become a global movement with more than 91,600 young "ambassadors for climate justice" - children and young people from a total of 75 countries. Every tree planted as part of the campaign symbolises climate justice. The movement's major goal is to plant one trillion - or 1,000 billion - new trees worldwide. This is intended to bind a significant proportion of the CO2 emissions caused by humans. Plant-for-the-Planet uses its internet platform to make its global renaturalisation efforts transparent. A total of 29 million trees have been donated via plant-for-the-planet.org since 2007. As part of the "Billion Tree Campaign", which UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, entrusted to the children of Plant-for-the-Planet in 2011, as many as 13.97 billion trees were reported worldwide between December 2006 and 2018.

Plant-for-the-Planet offers training workshops, known as academies. Children between the ages of nine and twelve pass on their knowledge to others and train them to become "ambassadors for climate justice". More than 1600 Plant-for-the-Planet Academies have already taken place. On the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, the organisation is working to restore 20,000 hectares of destroyed forest. Plant-for-the-Planet put the issue of climate change on the agenda at an early stage back in 2007. The youth organisation's approach is to make an effective and constructive contribution to the global climate debate through practical action.