2023 medal and award recipients announced today
Founder of the Global Canopy Programme, Andrew Mitchell, and influential historical geographer, Professor Felix Driver, have been awarded the Society’s two prestigious Royal Medals. These are part of a series of awards that recognise extraordinary achievement in geographical research, fieldwork, teaching, policy, and public engagement.
The Royal Medals, which are of equal standing, have been approved by His Majesty the King, and are among the highest honours of their kind in the world. They have been presented since the 1830s and past recipients include Sir David Attenborough, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Lindsey Hilsum.
Andrew Mitchell is awarded the 2023 Founder’s Medal for his lifetime’s contribution to protecting tropical rainforests and combating climate change.
Nigel Clifford, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “The fact that ‘ecosystem services’, ‘natural capital’ and ‘nature-based solutions’ are now commonplace concepts is in no small part thanks to Andrew’s efforts. His tireless work to protect the tropical rainforests of the world means he wholly deserves this honour. For over 40 years, Andrew has embraced every opportunity to achieve his objective as he moved from the world of scientific research into policy formation, and subsequently tackling the flows of money powering the deforestation economy.”
Andrew Mitchell said: “I am delighted to accept this honour and dedicate it to every leaf, and every branch, and every creature that calls towering trees their home. In the face of deforestation and changing climate, our commitment to preserve these living giants and their diverse ecosystems has become ever more critical. I thank the Royal Geographical Society for catalysing leadership in research and debate on the biggest environmental issues of our time. This award will catalyse me to continue doing the same.”
Professor Felix Driver receives the 2023 Patron’s Medal for his contributions to historical geography and to the Society.
Nigel Clifford said: “Felix is one of the most influential human geographers of his generation. A Royal Medal is suitably fitting to recognise such profound achievements. His work has been a catalyst for change across museums, national bodies and cultural institutions, including the Society. His enormous contributions to Society projects, such as Hidden histories of exploration and Everest through the lens brought to the fore the significant involvement of those hidden from history and connected our Collections to the pressing issue of the ethics of inclusion and recognition. He is also a pioneer of new fields and approaches in the geo and environmental humanities, such as plant humanities, mobile museums, indigenous mapping, and environmental movements.”
Professor Felix Driver said: “It is an honour to receive this award and I am especially grateful to the Society for recognising the value of research in historical geography and for seeking creative and effective ways of reactivating its own remarkable Collections.”
This year, the Society’s medals and awards recognise 23 outstanding people and organisations for their notable contributions to geography. Among other recipients, photographer and writer team Harriet Fraser and Rob Fraser received the Cherry Kearton Medal and Award for their discipline-crossing work that sheds light on the seldom-seen and seldom-heard in the context of rural landscapes. Jane Rumble OBE is awarded the Back Medal for her commitment to shaping public policy in polar settings, and inspirational academic, Professor Anson Mackay, is awarded the Victoria Medal in recognition of their transformative impact on the discipline of geography.
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The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830 for 'the advancement of geographical science', today we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and Membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’. www.rgs.org
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s prestigious medals and awards recognise excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement. They are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements. Recipients join a prestigious list that includes Sir Alexander Burnes, Freya Stark, Alfred Russel Wallace, Captain R. Scott and more recently Professor Heather Viles, Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Dr Sylvia Earle, Professor Diana Liverman, Sir Crispin Tickell and Sir David Attenborough www.rgs.org/medals.
His Majesty the King approves the award of the Royal Medals – the Founder’s Medal and the Patron’s Medal – each year, both of which originated in 1831 as an annual gift of fifty guineas to the Society from King William IV. In 1839, it was agreed this sum should be converted into the two gold medals.
The medals and awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Society in London on Monday 5 June. Photos taken at the ceremony will be available from the Society’s press office on this date.
The full list of medals and awards winners is as follows:
HIS MAJESTY THE KING has approved the award of the ROYAL MEDALS as follows:
Royal Medal - Founder’s Medal
Royal Medal - Patron’s Medal
THE SOCIETY'S COUNCIL has made the following awards:
Cherry Kearton Medal and Award
Cuthbert Peek Award
Gill Memorial Award (two awards)
Dr Sarah Bell For exceptional early career research with a remarkable track record of achievement
Dr Jovan Scott Lewis For exceptional early career research with a remarkable track record of achievement
Ordnance Survey Awards (two awards)
Taylor and Francis Award
Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize
Ron Cooke Award
Professor Simon Catling In recognition of outstanding support for geography
Derry Corey In recognition of outstanding support for the Society
Ted Grey In recognition of outstanding support for geography
Alasdair Macleod In recognition of outstanding support for the Society and geography