Sculptor Irma Bruun Hodne with the "Cormorant" (2003)

What is the Rachel Carson Prize?

The Rachel Carson Prize is an environmental award in memory of Rachel Carson, the American marine biologist and author, who is also called the mother of the modern environmental movement.The prize is awarded to a woman who has distinguished herself in outstanding work for the environment in Norway or internationally.

The UN Programme of Action from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 - Agenda 21 - enhances women's participation in national and international ecosystem management and control of environment degradation.

Following that line, the objective of the Rachel Carson Prize is - in this age of globalization - to emphasize women's contributions to environmental management by presenting an environmental award every two years to a Norwegian or international candidate.

The prize was initiated during a meeting in Stavanger in 1989, where professor Berit Ås had a lecture on the ecological chains. On discovering that the audience knew nothing about Rachel Carson, she became so shocked that she offered her reward for the lecture of NOK 2000 to establish the Rachel Carson Fund together with NOK 10 from each of the persons present. This resulted in NOK 4000 to the fund, to be awarded to a female environmentalist.

 The initiative was followed up by three Stavanger women, Ms. Else Olsen, Ms. Brit Skjærvø and Ms.Venke Helene Thorsen, who invented the Rachel Carson Prize.

The award bears Carson's name to set a high standard and to signal that it rewards creative and innovative thinking and work regarding environmental issues.

The award consists of a sum of money and a statuette, a cormorant, made by the artist Irma Bruun Hodne. This water bird has been chosen to symbolize Rachel Carson's commitment to save the seas, and to represent a species threatened by man's indiscriminate use of chemicals.

The prize is being governed by a board seated in Stavanger, Norway. The board appoints a free and independent jury, the Prize Committee, which elects the award winner.

The prize was awarded during the ENS Conference (Environment Northern Seas) in Stavanger from 1991 to 1999. In 2001 it was awarded during the Women Show the Way event in Stavanger, in 2003 during the International Week, in 2005 during the Research Days, and in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 as part of the World Environment Day celebrations in early June.