Eligible applications will undergo a comprehensive review process by a Jury composed of individuals with deep insight into Steve’s personal and professional values. They collectively represent members of Steve’s family, GWEC, REN21 and Greenpeace.
Founding Director, Varda Group
Kelly Rigg has been leading international campaigns for more than 35 years on climate, energy, ocean, and other issues. She was a senior campaign director for Greenpeace International for nearly 20 years, including coordinator of the successful international campaign to save Antarctica.
In 2003 she co-founded the Amsterdam-based Varda Group consultancy providing campaign, communications, organizational and strategic advice to a wide range of NGOs, IGOs and philanthropic organizations. She served as Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) from 2009-2014, an alliance of several hundred organizations working to achieve a strong U.N. climate agreement which culminated with the Paris Agreement. She also led the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition for five years, campaigning for a UN General Assembly moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.
She has lived in Amsterdam since 1989 with her husband, the late Steve Sawyer.
Head of Operations and Business Development, smartEn
Layla Sawyer is Head of Operations and Business Development at smartEn, the European business
association integrating the decentralized solutions of the clean energy transition, where she works on
flexibility, digitalisation and the future of prosumer models. Previously she worked at a national climate
NGOs in the Netherlands, advocating for more urgency in the Dutch energy transition, and she spent a
year in the Philippines working for a social investment fund specialized in climate resilient enterprises.
She studied Sustainable Business and Innovation at the University of Utrecht, with a special focus on energy and material transitions and p2p energy trading.
Arthouros Zervos is the President of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) since 2013. He is a Professor Emeritus at the National Technical University of Athens.
He has been Chairman and CEO of the Greek electricity utility Public Power Corporation
(PPC) as well as Chairman of the PPC Renewables, both from 2009 to 2015.
He has more than 35 years of high level expertise in policy, science, research and technology across the renewable energy sector. He led key European and International renewable energy bodies and has acted as policy advisor to Governments, EU bodies and policy fora.He has been President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) from 2001 to 2013, President of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) from 2000 to 2012 and President of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) from 2005 to 2010. In 2013 he received the “Poul La Cour” prize for outstanding achievement in wind energy. He was the lead author of the White Paper on Renewable Sources of Energy for the EC in 1997.
He is a graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor and Master Degrees of Science in Engineering as well as a Ph.D. Degree from the Université P. et M. Curie (Paris 6).
International Executive Director, Greenpeace International
Jennifer is the International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands but working around the world. She first became IED in April 2016 in a shared leadership role with former Bunny McDiarmid. When Bunny left the organisation in August 2019, Jennifer was appointed as the sole IED for Greenpeace International.
Jennifer is the former Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Global Climate Change Director at Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) and led the Global Climate Change Program of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
As the Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Jennifer oversaw the Institute’s work on climate change issues and guided the WRI strategy in helping countries, governments and individuals take positive action toward achieving a zero-carbon future. She was responsible for day-to-day management of the 60+ person programme, and worked closely with the WRI China, India, Brazil and Indonesia offices. In addition, Jennifer was WRI’s lead representative at international climate meetings, including the UNFCCC negotiations. She has published on international climate policy issues.
Ben Backwell is a leading commentator and strategist in the renewable energy sector. Prior
to joining GWEC, he was a Managing Director at FTI Consulting, one of the world’s largest
advisory firms, advising companies in the clean energy sector on strategy, communications,
and government affairs, including work on a number of major M&A transactions.
Previously, Ben worked as a journalist and analyst for 20 years, covering energy policy and markets around the world. He helped design the SolutionWind campaign for the European Wind Energy Association (now WindEurope) ahead of COP21 in 2015, before joining FTI Consulting. He has taken part in the work of a number of industry organizations, including the board of GWEC, the IRENA Business and Investor Group, the IEA’s Renewable Energy Industry Advisory Board, Solar Power Europe, and others. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at international conferences.
Ben is the author of two books on the wind industry as well as a number of reports and white papers on power markets and policy frameworks. His book Wind Power, the struggle for control of a new global industry,” (Routledge 2015, 2nd Revised Edition 2017) has been described as the “definitive” story of the global wind industry. He holds an MSc in Political Science from the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London and speaks Spanish and Portuguese as well as his native English.