From time to time, the Skoll Foundation presents a special award to someone who would rightly be described as a global treasure. We don’t have formal criteria for this award. We just know when there’s someone in our midst who is doing extraordinary things to address the world’s most pressing problems.
The Skoll Global Treasure Award is presented at the annual Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. Past recipients of the award have included:
Growing up in the segregated rural South, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter learned early on of marginalization and unjust distribution of resources. While serving in Georgia state politics, he advocated for civil rights, and as 39th U.S. President, he helmed peace treaties in the Middle East, crafted environmental protections, and created a new Department of Education. He opened the Carter Center in 1982 to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease. As a clarion voice for the disenfranchised, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. In recent years he has turned his compassionate eye to what he calls the number one human rights abuse: systematic injustice against women and girls.
Bono is an activist in the fight against extreme poverty, whose belief in public advocacy led him to co-found ONE and (RED). ONE has 7 million members worldwide campaigning to persuade governments to adopt and resource policies proven to tackle extreme poverty and fight corruption. (RED) partners with iconic brands to raise public awareness and corporate contributions to fight AIDS, and has contributed more than $360 million to the Global Fund.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls himself a simple Buddhist monk, but is actually a world leader, a Nobel laureate, and an inspiration to millions. Presenting the award, Jeff Skoll recalled a favorite quote from His Holiness that is especially salient for social entrepreneurs: “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” Regrettably His Holiness could not attend the 2016 Skoll World Forum to receive his award due to health issues.
Graça Machel is a renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She contributed to the independence struggle in her native Mozambique and served as Minister for Education and Culture in its first post-independence government. She has been recognized in particular for her work on a groundbreaking United Nations report on the impact of armed conflict on children. Mrs. Machel is a founder of The Elders, and played a key role in founding Skoll Awardee Girls Not Brides.
Malala Yousafzai is a global human rights activist and co-founder of the Malala Fund. In 2012, she was shot by the Taliban while traveling home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Since the attack, she has become internationally known for refusing to be silenced and continuing her fight for the right of every child to receive an education. Malala received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi—at 17, she was the youngest ever recipient of the prize. A 2015 documentary about her struggle, called He Named Me Malala, was shortlisted for an Academy Award
“Before we even knew to call him a social entrepreneur,” Jeff Skoll said in presenting the 2013 Skoll Global Treasure Award, “Muhammad Yunus was defining the field.” From Bangladesh, Mr. Yunus is also a banker, economist, and civil society leader. In 2006 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank, a pioneer in microcredit and microfinance. In 2011 he founded Yunus Social Business — Global Initiatives to create and empower social businesses, and solve social problems around the world. He has received more than 50 honorary degrees.
The winner of the inaugural Skoll Global Treasure Award, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is a South African Anglican cleric who has been an outspoken defender of human rights and campaigner for the oppressed. His eloquent advocacy and brave leadership contributed to ending South African apartheid in 1993. He has campaigned on a diverse array of issues, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Archbishop Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, in addition to numerous other honors. He now devotes his time to the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation USA, teaching youth to create a more compassionate and peaceful world.