Laureates


The Institute has celebrated eight Hillary Laureates over the past decade, three of whom have also been given Hillary Step awards. While coming from across the globe - US, UK, China, South America and Kiribati - Hillary Laureates are united by exceptional mid-career, leadership, impact at scale, and a deep sense of purpose driving their work. 

 

Photograph above: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay approaching the South East ridge at 27,300 feet. Photograph courtesy of The Royal Geographic Society (with IBG).


 
 

Johan Rockström (Sweden) - 2017

Tim Jackson (UK) - 2016

Michael Brune (USA) - 2014

 

Atossa Soltani (Amazon) - 2013

Anote Tong (Kiribati) - 2012

Aimée Christensen (USA) - 2011

 

Peggy Liu (China) - 2010

Jeremy Leggett (UK) - 2009

 
 
 

How Are Laureates Selected?


The Hillary Laureates are found via a global search programme and watch-list developed over the past decade.


Laureates cannot self-nominate - following recommendations from a wide variety of sources globally, the Institute’s Founding Director delivers the International Governors a short-list of six candidates by 31st March each year, and they make a determination on one as that year's Hillary Laureate by June. This is then ratified by the Institute’s Board of Trustees in New Zealand, whose Chair also convenes the International Governors.

There are no absolutes in how Laureates are ultimately selected. Key qualities however in all short-listed candidates are likely to include the following criteria.

  • outstanding leaders in mid-career 
  • making a demonstrable impact in their field of endeavour
  • individuals for whom being a Hillary Laureate will raise their visibility and positively impact their work
  • collaborative
  • likely to have a rapport with, and be complementary to, our earlier Laureates
  • likely to actively contribute to the Institute's mission.

No-one has refused the Laureate honour. The Institute provides support and holds annual Symposia both in New Zealand and internationally, usually in the home communities of Laureates, creating integrated linkages representing the latest thinking on our chosen leadership topic. Our current topic (2016-19) is “Capital for Change”. 2009-12 was “Climate Change Solutions” and 2012-15 “Climate Equity.” Hillary Laureates are also encouraged to collaborate with former Laureates to further grow their international impact. 

 
 

The Hillary Step


Named after the final, almost vertical 40-foot cliff-face that Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled in reaching the summit of Everest, the Hillary Step is a metaphor for the challenges innovative leaders face.

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay at Camp IV after their ascent of Everest. Photograph courtesy of The Royal Geographic Society (with IBG).


The Hillary Step is a prize that is given every four years to the person (likely but not necessarily a Hillary global Laureate) whom the Hillary Institute determines has a project where direct support from the Institute may enable a significant hurdle to be overcome in the chosen topic area.

The Hillary Step is currently valued at NZD100,000 and complements similar awards at the highest international level. Attracting international focus upon the recipient and their work, the Hillary Step brings further international attention to those leaders who raise the bar and make the world a better place.

The inaugural Hillary Step was awarded to 2010 Laureate Peggy Liu for "China Dream". The second Hillary Step was jointly awarded to 2015 and 2013 Laureates Mike Brune and Atossa Soltani for bringing together 60 NGO and indigenous leaders from across the Americas in preparation for the Paris Climate Accords in 2015.