Bill Drayton receives Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oviedo, Spain – June 8, 2011. Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in International Cooperation today, Spain’s highest honor and Nobel equivalent. An international jury deliberated over the 25 finalists from 18 different countries who were under consideration for this award, before making the announcement live via satellite. Recipients are awarded 50,000 euros, a specially commissioned Joan Miró sculpture, a diploma and an insignia. This year’s award ceremony will be held on Oct 21st in Oviedo, Spain.

I am more deeply touched than I can express by the decision of the jury for the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. I know it truly is a recognition of the extraordinary social entrepreneurs in Spain and across the world, so many of whom are friends and colleagues. Spain once again is opening a wonderful new land.

The faster the world changes, the more important it becomes to do more than give fish or help people learn to fish. We must constantly change the fishing industry. That requires entrepreneurs.

Moreover, we need to make sure that each change is for the good. That’s why the world needs social entrepreneurs — men and women whose lives and therefore work are only for the good of all. We need them individually and, even more, as a global community working together.

The Prince of Asturias Award will help Ashoka and all of us build this essential new force in the world – Bill Drayton

As the founder and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Bill Drayton is a true social entrepreneur. During his time as a student at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School, he launched a number of organizations. He began his career at McKinsey and Company and then served as Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he launched emissions trading (the basis of the Kyoto Protocol) and other reforms. In 1981, he founded Ashoka and was able to grow it with the support that he received when elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984. In addition to his current role as Chairman and CEO of Ashoka, Mr. Drayton is the chair of Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! Mr. Drayton has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including selection as one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, the John Gardner Leadership Award for transformative leadership in the non- profit sector, the Goi Peace Foundation’s Peace Award and the Essl Social Prize, for his work creating and building the field of social entrepreneurship.

“Ashoka is a great global organization, built on a brilliant idea. It picks up social innovators when they themselves don’t know what great changes they can bring. That’s the stage when budding innovators need the support most. Ashoka helps pool local innovations into global solutions.” Muhammad Yunus-Founder, Grameen Bank (2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Prince of Asturias Prize Winner)

The Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work performed at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions.” Those “whose work has contributed in both an exemplary and relevant way to mutual understanding, progress or fellowship among peoples” are nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. Previous winners have included Mandela, Al Gore, Simone Veil, Mario Soares, Jacques Delors, Mijail Gorbachov, Al Gore, ’Lula’ da Silva and organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization.

About Ashoka

Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world’s working community of more than 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capability to integrate and connect entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure that is supporting the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector. Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A ChangemakerTM society to become the reality of tomorrow. For more information, visit

About Prince of Asturias Foundation

The essential aims of the Foundation are to consolidate links between the Principality and the Prince of Asturias, and to contribute to encouraging and promoting scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind’s universal heritage. With this purpose, the Prince of Asturias Awards was initiated in 1981, divided into eight categories (Arts, Social Sciences, Communication and Humanities, International Cooperation, Technical and Scientific Research, Letters, Sport and Concord). H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias, D. Felipe de Borbón, presents these Awards each autumn at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo.