Renate Künast. Photo: Deutscher Bundestag

Award winner 2001:

Renate Künast

Renate Künast received the prize for her great courage and hard work for a change of agricultural policy in her own country and within the European Union. She is a strong advocate of organic farming, which avoids pesticides, drugs and other manmade chemicals and feeds.

She was, unfortunately, not able to be present at the prize giving event, therefore the prize was received on her behalf by the Consul for Germany in Stavanger, from State Secretary Sigrun Møgedal.

Renate Künast was Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in Germany. She was born December 15, 1955 in Recklinghausen in then West-Germany.

She went to the polytechnic high school in Düsseldorf, worked as a social worker at the penitentiary Berlin-Tegel from 1977 to 1979, before she went on to university, earned a law degree and started practising law in Berlin.

Ms. Künast actively joined the anti-nuclear movement in the late -70s and was particularly involved in the battle against a recycling plant and deposit for atomic waste in Gorleben.
In 1979 she joined the "Alternative List", the precursor to the Green party, and has since had various assignments within the party and in the local government in Berlin. She has been a fervent advocate for civil rights and citizens' participation in democratic processes, especially after the German reunion. Equal rights and legal rights for minorities have also been causes close to her heart.

In June 2000 Renate Künast was elected spokesperson of the Green party by the Central Committee. After having been appointed Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in the red-green German coalition government in January 2001, she left her position in the party, to avoid role conflicts.

Renate Künast was the first female Minister of Agriculture in Germany. She took office in the midst of the foot- and mouth disease crisis, and immediately set out to reform old-fashioned agriculture. She worked doggedly to promote environmentally friendly farming methods, to improve consumer safety and food quality, and to protect biological diversity, having as a goal to increase organic farming to 20% of agriculture within 10 years.