Whistleblower Stefánsson nominated for award

Award draws attention to anti-corruption heroes

09 March 2021 | International

Jóhannes Stefánsson, the Icelandic whistleblower who revealed ‘The Fishrot Files’ – the corruption scandal with roots in Iceland and Namibia – is one of five WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award finalists this year.
The award aims to recognise and support outstanding contributions from around the world for the benefit of humans, the planet and our common future. It has been presented in Gothenburg since 2000 and this year's winner will be announced on 21 April.
This year's theme for the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award is anti-corruption and it comes with a prize of one million SEK.
According to the jury, Stefánsson was nominated for his courage to speak up and leave his post as leader of the fishing company Samherji's operations in Namibia in protest against the corrupt methods his company engaged in to ensure access to fishing quotas. “The act shows the importance of individuals in the business world who have the courage to take a stand against abuse of power and corruption,” the jury said.
Since the theme of anti-corruption was revealed in October 2020, the jury received nominations of initiatives and candidates who actively oppose corruption and thus strengthen opportunities for a sustainable future.

Integrity, responsibility
“Anti-corruption is a matter for us all and therefore we are very happy to be able to draw attention to prominent individuals and organisations in the area,” said jury chairperson Emma Dalväg.
She added that this year's finalists all showed great integrity and impressive social responsibility.
“Fighting corruption often involves risks and requires courage. We are very proud to present a wide range of finalists who, in different ways and in different parts of the world, fight for a more fair and sustainable world.”
Efforts that counteract and put the spotlight on corruption are highlighted this year by WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award, which states that the work against corruption is a necessary condition for global sustainable development. For example, the amount of money that is lost every year to corruption according to the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF amounts to U$4 000 billion. This is an enormous figure, which can be compared with the U$2 930 billion that is the financial gap that needs to be filled in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Tip of the iceberg
The calculations of how much money disappears in decision-makers' pockets is just the tip of the iceberg. The societal costs of corruption are enormous and they have a major impact on our ability to achieve both economic, ecological and social sustainability.
Corruption increases poverty, complicates effective climate action and hinders the chances of achieving global goals.
Money specifically set aside for healthcare or sustainability projects all too often ends up in the pockets of decision-makers, and companies and organisations bribe themselves free from laws and regulations that apply to everyone. In the end, it is the already vulnerable who suffer the most.

After carefully going through the 64 nominations from 34 countries around the world, the jury selected five finalists.
The other finalists are:
• Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), a non-profit organisation in Afghanistan that works to shed light on corruption through revelations, surveillance and advocacy;
• International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a global network of reporters and media houses working together to expose corruption among those in power;
• Nicola Gratteri, the lead prosecutor in Italy’s largest anti-mafia trial, overseeing the prosecution of over 350 people with alleged links to the southern Italian mafia organisation 'Ndrangheta; and
• Hamzat Lawal, a Nigerian anti-corruption activist and co-founder of the organisation Connected Development and the Follow the Money initiative.

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