In its motivation, the Nominating Committee wrote:
The Professors Sven Erik Jørgensen and William J. Mitsch are awarded the
Stockholm Water Prize 2004 for their pioneering development and global
dissemination of ecological models of lakes and wetlands, widely applied as
effective tools in sustainable water resource management.
Professor Jørgensen, 69, is a professor of environmental chemistry at the Danish
University of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Copenhagen. Professor Mitsch, 56, is a
professor of natural resources and environmental science and director of the
Olentangy River Wetland Research Park at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Their theoretical and applied work on lake and wetland ecosystems, management
of lake and wetland water quality, and lake, river and wetland conservation,
restoration and usage has been acknowledged and implemented in both developing
and developed countries.
The scientific fields of the Laureates complement one another and they will
share the 2004 Stockholm Water Prize. His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of
Sweden will present the Prize in the Stockholm City Hall on Thursday, August
19, 2004. The Laureates will also share the USD 150,000 Prize sum.
Lakes and wetlands - precious resources
Lakes and wetlands have inestimable value and are important and often easily
available water resources. Lakes supply drinking water, hydropower, food,
irrigation and recreation, yet they are threatened by pollution and excessive
water withdrawal. Wetlands are cradles of vital biological diversity and
provide the water and primary productivity upon which numerous species of
plants and animals depend for survival. But they are threatened by drainage for
use in agriculture and other purposes. Preservation of lakes and wetlands is a
life necessity for people in many regions of the world, given their cultural,
ecological and socio-economic value.
Creating sustainability by understanding how lakes and wetlands work
Sustainability as a concept is fine on paper, but until it is broken down into
activities managed through appropriate tools, it remains only a concept.
Professor Jørgensen's unique ecosystem models encompass entire lake and
wetlands systems and the physical, biological and chemical interactions taking
place within them. These kinds of system models provide managers and planners
with concrete tools to address problems and implement solutions.
As an example, he and his co-workers developed modeling software for the United
Nations Environment Programme to support planning and decision making for the
management of lakes and wetlands in developing countries and countries in
transition. Today, more and more freshwater bodies have become polluted by
nutrients originating from agricultural, domestic and industrial sources, a
situation which causes them to become eutrophic (where excessive algal growth
results in severe changes of water quality and the ecology). The software
developed by Professor Jørgensen provides an easy-to-use tool that allows for a
better understanding of eutrophication processes, including its origins and
effects, as well as preventive and remedial measures. Another UN agency - the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - has
selected Professor Jørgensen's publications on lake research and management as
guideline books for lake environmental management.
Professor Mitsch was the inspiration behind the Olentangy River Wetland Research
Park at The Ohio State University, a world-class wetland research and education
facility. There, among other focus areas, research on the ecological
restoration of the Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri Basin is being spearheaded. To
help reduce coastal pollution in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the ultimate
depository of the Mississippi, he has also taken the role as leader in the
debates, studies and resolutions dealing with coastal wetland losses in the US
state of Louisiana. He has also shown that constructed wetlands can be
engineered for use as buffering and purification systems, as has Professor
Jørgensen, who for the last nine years has been responsible for a project in
Tanzania to develop better knowledge of such systems. In practical terms,
artificial wetlands can be ideal for use as an inexpensive, final stage in the
domestic wastewater treatment process - an approach that could have significant
meaning for the developing world.
Professor Mitsch writes, "STELLA software has been the primary tool of my
teaching and research program for many years, going back to the original
version that appeared for the Macintosh almost 20 years ago. I recall doing a
small STELLA model in 1987 while on a Fulbright Fellowship visiting Sven
Jørgensen in Copenhagen Denmark that I later published in a book chapter. Since
then, my wetlands research program has published another 16 papers that include
STELLA models, particularly on wetland biogeochemistry, ecology and even
He continues, "At the same time, I have used STELLA as one of the principle
modeling tools in my graduate course 'Ecosystem Modeling' taught at Ohio State
since 1986 and even before that at the University of Louisville. I believe in
teaching 'modeling from scratch,' not simply giving students code already
developed. STELLA really was a godsend to my teaching and research career and,
I hope, to my students as well, many of whom are now professors elsewhere."
Promoters of ecological approaches
Professors Jørgensen and Mitsch have collaborated often. The ecosystem approach
advocated by them is a strategy for the integrated management of living
resources on land and in the water that promotes sustainable use in an
equitable way. Through both theoretical developments and practical applications
of ecological engineering - by their definition, "the design of sustainable
ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the
benefit of both" - they have integrated various existing environmental fields
such as classical ecology, agro-ecology and restoration ecology. The skills of
these fields are used to design low-impact systems for waste treatment, food
and energy production, habitat restoration and other benefits.
Influencing future leaders in the field
As educators, authors and speakers, Jørgensen and Mitsch have directly or
indirectly influenced and inspired many of the scientists and environmental
engineers responsible for lake and wetland protection in all parts of the
world. Professor Jørgensen has led many courses in developing countries and
advises agencies and authorities also on the use and protection of wetlands.
An international SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems in the Environment) on
ecological engineering and ecosystem restoration initiated by and chaired by
Professor Mitsch held workshops in Tallinn, Estonia, and Beijing, China, to
investigate applications of ecological engineering in developing countries and
countries in transition. Such approaches have also been applied in several
sub-Saharan countries in Africa, parts of Asia and elsewhere. Many results have
been published in the leading publication in the field, "Ecological
Engineering," which Professor Mitsch founded.
The professors are also well-respected authors. Professor Mitsch co-authored the
university standard textbook "Wetlands," which today influences future water
professionals around the world. Professor Jørgensen has further contributed to
greater understanding of ecological theories through books such as "Integration
of Ecosystem Theories: A Pattern."
The Laureates have also always emphasized the importance of assisting countries
and regions, which have differing states of technical and scientific
development than the Western nations.
The Stockholm Water Prize
The Stockholm Water Prize was established in 1990 by the
Stockholm Water Foundation
and is presented annually in honor of outstanding achievements in water
science, management, action or awareness building. It can be awarded to the
man, woman, institution, organization or company whose applied research or
direct action increases knowledge of the water environment. Prize Laureates
have represented many water-related disciplines - including academia, education
and research, development aid and charity, engineering, law - and have come
from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany Great Britain, India, Israel, Japan,
South Africa, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela.
Founders of the Stockholm Water Prize are Anglian Water, Bacardi, DuPont,
Fujitsu Siemens Computers, General Motors, Grundfos Management, Hewlett
Packard, ITT Flygt, Kaupthing Bank Sverige, Kemira Kemwater, KPMG, Ragn-Sells,
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Snecma, Stockholm Water Festival, Swedish Railways
(SJ), Uponor Group and Water Environment Federation (WEF).