Australian-born photographer and founder of Beautiful News and Ginkgo Agency Adrian Steirn is the newest recipient of the Conservation Award from Les Jeunes du Monde Unis. This global accolade recognises outstanding contributions in the fields of humanitarianism and ecology.
The awards, which were held on 12 November at the Casino de Madrid, also honoured a number of well-known people from across the world. Jack Ma, the founder of the Alibaba Group, was honoured with the Economic Award, and Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was named the winner of the Peace Award for National and International Reconciliation. The Global Values Award winner is Padre Angel Garcia Rodriguez, while the Literature Award winner was Joanna Jarecka-Gomez.
The varied nationalities of recipients are indicative of the global reach of the awards; but also shows that Les Jeunes du Monde Unis has as its central goal the creation of a more unified world. Recipients are selected for achievements that have helped to create a more cohesive, inclusive global landscape, whether that means bettering life for citizens through community work, taking a stand against corruption or improving quality of life through a new innovation. This year’s theme, “Values Awards”, points to the organisation’s emphasis on social, economic, political and ecological progression and justice.
Steirn’s selection as winner of the conservation category recognises his efforts to use the visual arts to effect social change. Les Jeunes Du Monde Unis Awards have commended him for work that “shows how positive journalism can fundamentally change communities”. In particular, the organisation has highlighted Steirn’s efforts to direct the world’s attention to the scourge of poaching in Southern Africa, along with his revelations regarding the role played by the Mugabe family in supporting the illegal ivory trade. “His tireless work in this field reflects a compulsion to fight corruption and bureaucratic malfeasance,” according to the rationale behind his nomination.
Conservation is just one aspect of Steirn’s work. He is the driving force behind Ginkgo Agency, a strategic content format agency which is distinguished by its focus on providing content with a purpose for clients such as The Global Fund and the WWF. In 2015, he launched the 21 ICONS project; a series of photographs and interviews showcasing the personalities behind 21 of South Africa’s most impactful changemakers. The success of the series saw it extended to three seasons.
Steirn is also the founder of Beautiful News, a good news platform dedicated to sharing one uplifting short film 365 days of the year. Since launching in November 2016, it has grown a following of over half a million people on social media, with over 160 million views for its short films to date. The platform’s goal is to celebrate the good in humanity, with the reach it has generated having a demonstrable positive effect on the lives of the people whose stories it tells. Story subjects have benefitted from a heightened awareness of their work, as well as tangible assistance in the form of additional funding and career advancement thanks to exposure generated by Beautiful News.
As a commercial, then portrait and wildlife photographer, as well as through his work in journalism and multi-media reportage, Steirn has played a role in nation building and instilled a spirit of national pride.
“It is an amazing honour to be recognised with an award of this stature. It shows me the importance and value of the work done to date, and inspires me to continue uncovering the stories that will help us heal the world,” Steirn said.