The Awards Committee of the International Geographical Union is delighted to announce the recipients of the IGU Awards for 2021.  Mr. Dangermond is awarded the Planet and Humanity Medal (which honours individuals (not necessarily geographers) who have made outstanding contributions to peace, welfare, or sustainability).  Professor Eckart Ehlers and Helen Kerfoot are awarded the Laureat d’Honneur (which recognizes individuals who have achieved particular distinction or who have rendered outstanding service in the work of the IGU or in international geography).

2021 Planet and Humanity Medal: Mr. Dangermond

Although not trained as a geographer, Mr. Dangermond has done more to advance geography and create opportunities for its employment than any individual in history. Mr. Dangermond is Founder and CEO of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. [Esri), headquartered in Redlands, California since 1969. Esri is the leading geographic information systems (GIS) company in the world, providing ArcInfo, ArcView GIS, and ArcExplorer software to clients in 90 countries. He has consistently and constantly argued that GEOGRAPHY is the key to understanding the patterns and processes GIS reveals: “At Esri, we believe that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future.” Dangermond has generously supported major environmental programs and has donated or pledged more than US$1 billion worth of free Esri software to schools and environmental organizations.

Over the last thirty years, Dangermond has delivered keynote addresses at scores of international conferences, published hundreds of papers on GIS, and given more than a thousand presentations on GIS throughout the world. He is the recipient of a number of medals, awards, including the Audubon Medal, National Audubon Society, 2015, the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal of the International Cartographic Association, 2015, Champions of the Earth Award, United Nations Environment Programme, Laureate for 2013, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, National Geographic Society, 2010,
The Patron’s Medal, Royal Geographical Society, 2010, and the James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography of the Association of American Geographer, 1998.

Dangermond was educated at the California Polytechnic College-Pomona, the University of Minnesota, and Harvard University’s Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Design. He has been awarded honorary degrees by more than ten universities, including the City University of London, the State University of New York—Buffalo, the University of Minnesota, and Clark University.

2021 Lauréat d’Honneur: Professor Eckart Ehlers

Eckart Ehlers is a geographer who has consistently and successfully promoted internationalism and interdisciplinarity in the subject and, in so doing, has stimulated and enriched numerous geographical communities and institutions. Having chaired the German National Committee of the International Geographical Union between 1988 and 1992, he served as IGU’s Secretary General and Treasurer (1992-2000) with distinction. Later, he was Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Program (IHDP) (1996 to 2002). He supported many initiatives of internal and outreach significance and contributed to geography’s integration into global interdisciplinary research programs. Eckart Ehlers received his doctorate in 1965 at the University of Tübingen. From 1970 to 1972 he was professor at the Geographical Institute of the University of Giessen , from 1972 to 1986 at the University of Marburg , and from 1986 until his retirement in March 2004, at the Institute for Economic Geography at the University of Bonn, where he also served as Vice Rector between 1992 and 1997. As a geographer renowned for academic excellence he is highly qualified to be the recipient of the IGU Lauréat d’Honneur.

2021 Lauréat d’Honneur: Helen Kerfoot

Helen Kerfoot has been a leading light in the multidisciplinary high-level international authority, the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, having served as its sixth chair for ten years between 2002 and 2012. She worked tirelessly to promote geographical aspects of naming, and One of her major aims was to include developing countries into UNGEGN’s work. She was instrumental in supporting the founding, in 2011, of the joint Commission/Working Group of the International Geographical Union and International Cartographic Association (ICA), with the aim to foster toponymic research in geography and cartography complementary to UNGEGN with its focus on standardization and the International Council of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS) with its focus on linguistics. Born and educated in the United Kingdom, much of her professional life was spent in Canada, where, as a geographer with Natural Resources Canada, she dedicated her time to standardization of toponyms for spatial data infrastructure and preservation of cultural heritage. She also served at times as the Executive Secretary of the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC) which, through the jurisdiction of its members, authorizes names in Canada, including the names used on official federal government maps. Her exceptional scientific contributions to the promotion of the discipline , together with her Honorary Fellowship of ICA, are symbolic of the esteem in which she is held and provide ample evidence to distinguish her with the award of IGU Lauréat d’Honneur.