Green Swan Awards

The Green Swan Awards spotlight exponential solutions to wicked problems that make the seemingly impossible virtually inevitable, celebrating past achievements and spurring future innovation.

Celebrating Earth Day at 50

Denis Hayes

Co-founder, Earth Day Network

In 1970, the first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans, 10% of the total population at the time, to take to the streets in demonstrations to protect the planet.

Under co-founder Denis Hayes’s pioneering stewardship, the global influence of the Earth Day movement has only continued to blossom over time. Celebrating the milestone of its 50t​h​ anniversary this year on April 22n​d​, today Earth Day encompasses more than 190 participating countries and is the biggest secular event in the world’s annual calendar.

Not only is Denis deservedly recognised as one of the most influential environmental campaigners of all time, but Volans’ founder John Elkington hails the Earth Day movement​ as “one of the most effective and impactful ‘Green Swans’ of the past fifty years”​.

Happy 50th Birthday, Earth Day!

Volans’ founder John Elkington awards Denis Hayes, Earth Day co-founder, with a pioneering Green Swan Award for inspiring exponential citizen action on climate change.

The birth of Earth Day: the dawning of a global movement

John Elkington and Denis Hayes, both recognised as fathers of the sustainability movement, discuss the birth of Earth Day fifty years ago and how the movement has grown in influence and impact across the globe.

Priorities, policy and people power: Earth Day’s focus today

John Elkington interviews Denis Hayes, Earth Day co-founder, on the focus of the Earth Day Network on its 50th Anniversary.

Celebrating a Green Swan: Earth Day’s vision for the future

The Volans Green Swan Award spotlights exponential solutions to wicked problems. John Elkington talks to Earth Day so-founder Denis Hayes about his vision for the future, and the role of Earth Day in creating these exponential solutions.

I am genuinely excited because I understand now that the secret of great change is to paint pictures that are worthy of living up to.

Tim Smit, Founder of the Eden Project

The Inaugural Winners

Tim Smit

Founder and Executive Co-Chair of Eden Project International

The Eden Project transformed a vast china clay pit in Cornwall into a world class attraction and hub that has introduced sustainability thinking and practices to over 20 million visitors – in the process injecting over £1.5 billion into the regional economy.

Truly, a masterwork in regenerative capitalism. Eden features prominently in Green Swans because it powerfully illustrates the original intent of the triple bottom line – an integrated, systemic approach to economic, social and environmental value creation.

Sacha Dench

Founder of Conservation Without Borders

Known as the “Human Swan,” Sacha Dench is a pilot with a mission: “Connecting Science, People & Planet”. Her groundbreaking expedition, Flight of the Swans, involved flying 7,000 kilometres by paramotor, in all weathers, from Arctic Russia across 11 countries to the UK – to help draw attention to the plight of the Bewick’s swan.

Sculptor Nicola Godden

The wonderful artist making the maquette for the award, from which bronzes will be cast.

Captured here in her studio with Sacha Dench.

Award Nominations

The first call for nominations and applications will be launched in late Spring of 2020. We will focus on ideas, individuals, initiatives or institutions whose work is designed to trigger and support exponential trajectories towards positive impact.