Turning recognition into action: The World Food Prize impact
People told Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig her life would change because she won the World Food Prize, but she was still surprised at the impact it has had – on professional and personal fronts.
“It does indeed change your life in an absolutely fantastic way,” said Rosenzweig, 2022 World Food Prize Laureate, in a recent interview with the World Food Prize Foundation. “The other thing people shared was that the World Food Prize is a family. That’s true of the Laureates but also the whole Foundation. Every part of it is a family.”
Rosenzweig received the Prize last year for her seminal contributions to understanding and predicting the impacts of the interaction between climate and food systems. She is a Senior Research Scientist and head of the Climate Impacts Group at NASA’s Goodard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Columbia University Climate School.
The World Food Prize Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2024 World Food Prize Laureate through May 1. The award recognizes specific, exceptionally significant, individual achievement that advances human development with a demonstrable increase in the quantity, quality, availability of, or access to food through creative interventions at any point within the full scope of the food system. Laureates are not self-nominated but can play a role developing nomination materials, a process Rosenzweig said is valuable itself.
“Even creating the [nomination] package is an amazing experience because it really provides this opportunity to see all your work together in this wonderful, wonderful way,” she said. “It is totally worth it.”
Rosenzweig was announced as the 2022 Laureate in May of last year at the U.S. Department of State and received the award in October at the beautiful Iowa State Capitol. Since then, she has received many inquiries she says are the direct result of her status as a World Food Prize Laureate. They include speaking opportunities, like speaking to female employees at John Deere for Women’s History Month and connecting with the Center for African Leaders in Agriculture, which focuses on how to develop young people as leaders in food-related industries.
She also developed a new partnership with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security Cary Fowler, who Rosenzweig met at the 2022 International Norman E. Borlaug Dialogue. They are working together to provide valuable information to farmers in Africa for 150 traditional crops that are overlooked by researchers and organizations that focus on more prominent crops, such as maize, wheat, rice and potatoes.
“There are so many additional food crops and they are often very nutritious,” Rosenzweig said. “AgMIP is working with breeders to get the data that go into the models and testing how the climate would affect these crops.”
The World Food Prize comes with a $250,000 award, which Laureates are free to use as they please. Rosenzweig is one of many Laureates who’ve chosen to re-invest the funds in their work.
Rosenzweig used the money to establish a World Food Prize Fund at Columbia Climate School, where she holds a joint appointment. The fund will help bring together groups that weren’t working together before – a form of partnership Rosenzweig specializes in and refers to as radical collaboration.
“Right now, the challenges that we face around climate change, sustainability, nutrition, food security – they’re really very big challenges, and no one group or sector or discipline can solve them by themselves. We need to bring everybody together to work together.”
Do you know someone who should be the 2024 World Food Prize Laureate? Learn more and submit your nomination by May 1, 2023. (Deadline extensions are available through contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.)