The Prize Winners

The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity 2016

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva
Founder and Director, Navdanya (India)


I am grateful to the AEON Environmental Foundation for honoring me with the MIDORI Prize in recognition of my contributions to conservation of biodiversity. With humility I accept the honor to continue my service to the earth, her diverse beings, and our diverse local communities.

Biodiversity has been my teacher for the past 5 centuries, beginning with my work with the Chipko (hug the tree movement), and continuing with the Navdanya movement that I have built over the last 3 decades to protect the biodiversity of our crops and seeds for livelihood security of our small farmers, nutritional security of our children, and climate resilience of our ecosystems in the face of climate change.

Biodiversity is the web of life. It weaves the relationships that make the Earth Family. We are not inventors and owners of seeds and plants. That is why I have worked for seed freedom for 30 years, both by creating community seed banks, and working with governments to pass laws that explicitly state that plants and animals are not inventions.

I have had the privilege of having worked with the CBD as a member of the expert group to create the framework for the Biosafety Protocol.

Humanity needs these instruments more than ever before as we witness the deepening of monopolies, the extension of monocultures.

Biodiversity will show us the way to share the Earth with other species and other cultures as one Planet and One Humanity.

Reasons for Awarding the Prize

Based on the principle of “Earth Democracy,” Dr. Vandana Shiva has dedicated her life to protect biodiversity, save seeds, and promote traditional organic farming methods that protect farmers’ rights. Since the mid-1990s, she has been promoting traditional knowledge and livelihoods, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation, particularly in support of small communities and marginalized groups, including women, small farmers and indigenous and local communities in India. Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 18 states in India that provides training on sustainable agriculture and agroecological techniques.

Navdanya’s farm in Uttarakhand conserves more than 2,300 varieties of paddy rice, wheat, barley, oats, mustard, millets, pulses, spices, vegetables and medicinal plants. Innovative agroecological techniques are developed and adapted to local resources and biodiversity studies in this experimental farm. In 2004, a learning center, Earth University, was also set up. Navdanya has helped set up 122 community seed banks across the country, trained over 800,000 farmers in seed conservation, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, and helped set up the largest fair-trade organic network in the country.

Women are keys to Navdanya’s work. Diverse Women for Diversity is the global movement started by Dr. Shiva in 1995. The movement has rejuvenated women’s skills, knowledge and livelihood related to seeds, and processing of healthy traditional foods, thus empowering women, and benefitting society.

Navdanya’s “Seeds of Hope” project is a good example to highlight the effectiveness of the organization’s work at local level. Between 2011 and 2015, 486 farmers (95% of them women) have been trained in Uttarakhand and have converted to organic farming, 55% produce surplus, 13 community seed banks are operating, and biodiversity has increased by 25% and soil quality by 10%. Festivals, marches and informative rallies are used to raise awareness on biodiversity, food sovereignty and farmers’ rights over seeds. Navdanya’s work based on biodiversity in agriculture has increased food and nutrition security. Measured as Nutrition per Acre and Health per Acre, biodiversity conservation has the potential to feed two India’s. Through True Cost accounting measured as Wealth per Acre, incomes of small and marginal farmers have increased 10 fold. Dr. Shiva and Navdanya’s work thus contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and particularly to Goal 1, to end poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2, to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; Goal 12, to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 13, to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; and Goal 15, that includes to halt the loss of biodiversity. “Seeds of Hope” encourages women’s spearhead role in communities’ food security. Understanding the mechanisms and issues of climate change, farmers can change their production habits with the support of citizen consumers.

Based on her approach and knowledge of agronomy and economic research, Dr. Shiva has been influential on policies at national and international levels, and has contributed to the world discourses on biodiversity, access and benefit-sharing, and biosafety. She has promoted and developed alternative agricultural solutions jointly with small farmers in India. She has contributed as an expert to the Convention on Biological Diversity and to India’s Biodiversity Act, Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, and Forest Rights Act. Her great influence in challenging policies has shaped a planetary alliance to protect the planet’s biodiversity and people’s rights.

As described above, the great achievements of Dr. Vandana Shiva are in line with the principles of the Prize. She is therefore a truly deserving winner of the MIDORI Prize.

Biographical Summary

Born in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
M.Sc. Hons. Particle Physics, Punjab University, Chandigarh
M.A. Philosophy of Science, Guelph University, Canada
Ph.D. Foundation of Quantum, Theory on Topic “Hidden Variables & Non-locality in Quantum Theory” University of Western Ontario, Canada

Chair, International Commission on the Future of Food
Member, Core Group of Experts, National Action Plan on Biodiversity, Ministry of Environment, Government of India
Founding Board Member and Co-Chair, Women, Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), U.S.
Board Member, International Forum on Globalization, U.S.
Chair, International Forum on Agriculture, U.S.
Honorary President, P7 Summit, European Parliament, Belgium
Science and Ecology Advisor, Third World Network, Malaysia
Advisor, Advisory Committee, Central Soil & Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehra Dun
Member, Advisory Board, University Grants Commission, India
Member, Steering Committee on Environment for the 9th Plan, Planning Commission of India
Member, First Working Group on Biosafety, UNEP
Member, Core Group for developing a coordinated approach on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) over bioresources, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India
Member, Expert Group on Globalization and Labor for National Labor Commission
Member, Advisory Board, Office of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India
Recognized by the ASIA WEEK Magazine as the top five most powerful persons in Asia

Record of Honors and Awards

Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for her outstanding services to conservation and ecology.
Global 500 Roll of Honor, by UNEP for her outstanding environmental work.
Earth Day International Award, by Earth Day International for her dedicated commitment to the preservation of the planet as demonstrated by her actions, leadership and by setting an example for the rest of the world.
Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize), for her pioneering insights into the social and environmental costs of the dominant development process, and her ability to work with and for local people and communities in the articulation and implementation of alternatives”.
VIDA SANA International Award, Spain for her contribution to Ecology and Food Security.
“Pride of the Doon” Award from Doon Citizen Council, Dehra Dun, India, in recognition to her distinguished contribution to the region.
The Golden Plant Award (International Award of Ecology), Denmark, for the remarkable contribution for Ecology and Environment.
Alfonso Comin Award, Barcelona, Spain for important contribution both scientifically and personally to the ecologist and feminist movement in India widening their fields towards a greater perspective where struggles related to gender, ecology, ethnicity, class and Human Rights meet.
Commemorative Medal by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand on the occasion of the Celebration of the 18th World Food Day organized by FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.
Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic from the International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzu Centre at Rimini, Italy during the XXIV Pio Manzu International Conference on “The Horizons of Hermes”.
Pellegrino Artusi Award, Italy for original contribution to reflections on relations between humans and food.
Shirdi Sai Baba Gold Medal
HORIZON 3000 Award of Austria in recognition to rendering useful service for defending Human Rights and Preservation of Peace and for the vision of a worldwide fair development in the third millennium.
Lennon Ono Grant for Peace Award by Yoko Ono
Sydney Peace Prize
Doshi Bridgebuilder Award
Calgary Peace Prize
Thomas Merton Award
The Fukuoka Prize
The Prism of Reason Award
The Grifone d’Argento Prize

Related Website


Navdanya (Facebook)

More about Dr. Shiva

Dr. Shiva CV