The Bright Award

The Bright Award was created by a gift from Raymond E. Bright, Jr., JD ’59 in 2007 on behalf of his late wife, Marcelle, and himself. Mr. Bright died in 2011. Under the terms of his gift, the Bright Award is given annually to an “individual who has made significant contributions in the environmental preservation and sustainability area” and is awarded to an individual from one of ten rotating regions. The list of regions from which winners will be chosen over the next five years is shown below.

  • 2013 – South America
  • 2014 – North America
  • 2015 – Europe
  • 2016 – Africa
  • 2017 – West Asia

The nomination committee is led by Barton H. Thompson, Jr., Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural Resources Law, Stanford Law School, and Perry L. McCarty Director & Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.  The nomination committee is comprised of Stanford Law School faculty members, law students and others on campus, with assistance from consultants focused on designated regions of the world, and will recommend potential candidates each year. The Dean of Stanford Law School will select the final award recipient. An Advisory Committee, consisting of Michael Bright, George Bright, and Alan Markle, helps oversee the Bright Award and also provides guidance in the selection of the recipient.The award winner receives $100,000 and delivers a public lecture at Stanford University. 2013 was the inaugural year of the award.​

2015 (Europe):


Polly Courtice, founding director of the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, has won the 2015 Bright Award for her efforts in guiding thousands of business leaders to more sustainable business practices. Ms. Courtice will be delivering a public lecture at Stanford University on September 29, 2015.

Learn more about the event

Stanford announces 2015 Stanford Bright Award recipient

Previous Recipients

The Bright Award was established three years ago, and our first two recipients exemplify the qualities and contributions to sustainability that we look for in candidates.

2014 (North America):

Art Sterritt, founding executive director of Coastal First Nations (CFN) in British Columbia, has negotiated many agreements between Canadian federal and provincial governments and coastal native peoples, the crowning achievement being the establishment of the 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver.  While protecting the Canadian ecosystem from deforestation and other exploitation, CFN has established services that support its member nations’ efforts to create sustainable businesses within the territory.

Stanford Announces 2014 Stanford Bright Award Recipient
Stanford Law School Honors 2014 Bright Award Recipient Art Sterritt

2013 (South America):

Tasso Azevedo, a forestry manager and socio-environmental entrepreneur dedicated to preserving the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Bright Award.  Azevedo founded the Brazilian non-governmental organization Imaflora to create alternatives to deforestation and was the first chief and director general of the Brazilian Forest Service.  In the past 18 years, his innovative approach in promoting forestry management techniques has contributed to reducing the rate of deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent, and resulted in a 35 percent reduction of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions.  His work has inspired similar efforts around the world.

Watch the 2013 Bright Award Ceremony
Read the Bright Award Blog

Nomination Form & Criteria

This language of the gift, and conversations with the donor before he died, suggest the following criteria for choosing the award recipient:

  1. The primary criterion should be the contribution that the individual has made to environmental preservation and global sustainability (both natural and human made entities).
  2. The emphasis of the award is on environmental sustainability.  Although the work of the award recipient can address broad issues of sustainability (including economic and social sustainability), the work must also speak to the importance of environmental preservation as part of overall sustainability.
  3. Although the gift speaks of “global sustainability,” the work of the award recipient can focus on local or regional issues; the recipient need not have worked at the global level.  However, it is important that the work of the recipient provide a model for addressing, or otherwise speak to, issues of global importance.
  4. The recipient of the award need not be broadly known for his or her work.  However, given that this is a relatively new prize, the first several recipients of the prize will help establish its reputation.  It therefore is important that the nature of the recipient’s work demonstrate the importance and seriousness of the award.
  5. Ideally, the publicity and funding that will accompany the Bright Award will help the recipient to continue and expand his or her work on behalf of environmental preservation and sustainability.  As a result, we have a preference that the recipient be an individual who is still actively engaged in the pursuit of environmental preservation and sustainability and whose work therefore is likely to benefit from receipt of the award.  This is merely a preference, and not a requirement, however.
  6. The award winner must come from or work primarily in Europe (defined as all eastern, western, and northern European countries except those that were a part of the former Soviet Union; the UK countries and Turkey are included in this grouping).  The fact that an individual is now working on issues primarily outside Europe is not disqualifying, however, so long as the individual has previously devoted significant time to addressing issues in Europe and is known in Europe for that work.

​Please use this nomination form to nominate your candidate.