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Dick Smith, one of Australia’s most successful and recognized business leaders, is offering $1 million to “a young person under 30 who can impress me by becoming famous through his or her ability to show leadership in communicating an alternative to our population and consumption growth-obsessed economy.”
In issuing his pledge this past August, Smith said, “It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and it’s 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.”
The award is being named after William Wilberforce, a British politician who led the fight in parliament to abolish the slave trade. Smith said, “In the 19th Century, empires were built on the labour of slaves, and it was believed economies would collapse if slavery was abolished. But brave people like William Wilberforce fought to end the slave trade – and economies still flourished. We need brave people like Wilberforce today, and I want to encourage a new generation of clear-thinking and inspiring young leaders.”
Smith said, “I will be looking for candidates whose actions over the next year show that they have what it takes to be among the next generation of leaders our incredible planet so badly needs.” There is no application process. Smith said he would be following the media around the world to ascertain who is making a critical difference. Candidates must 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…” The award will be given in August of 2011.