Geneva, Switzerland, January 12, 2024 / TRAVELINDEX / Architect and educator Diébédo Francis Kéré, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme and Oscar-winning actor Michelle Yeoh, and producer, guitarist, composer and humanitarian Nile Rodgers are the recipients of the 30th annual Crystal Award, the World Economic Forum announced today.
The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on the evening of Monday, 15 January. The award celebrates the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society.
The Crystal Award is presented at Davos each year by Hilde Schwab, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum. The cultural leaders receiving the 2024 Crystal Award were chosen for their ability to connect us to each other, help us reflect on the human condition and provide visions of the world that can cut through the limitations of short-term or linear thinking.
Diébédo Francis Kéré
Kéré receives the 2024 Crystal Award for his exemplary leadership in providing the Gando community with the means to create a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable future through projects that focus on education, health and the environment.
Kéré is a native of Burkina Faso and studied at the Technical University of Berlin. Parallel to his studies, he established the Kéré Foundation to support the development of his home village. In 2005, he opened the architectural office Kéré Architecture. His architectural practice has received national and international recognition, including the Pritzker Prize (2022), the Praemium Imperiale (2023) and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2004), awarded for his first building, the Gando Primary School in Burkina Faso.
Kéré has developed innovative construction strategies that combine traditional building techniques and materials with modern methods. His use of local materials, local knowledge and local technologies creates holistic and sustainable design solutions. He is currently working on the Benin National Assembly, the Goethe-Institut Senegal in Dakar and a mausoleum for Burkinabè revolutionary Thomas Sankara in Ouagadougou. He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Swiss Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. Since 2017, he is professor at TU Munich and Yale University (2019).
“I have witnessed the power of architecture as a tool for social transformation, from laying the bricks for a school building in my native Gando, to designing a new national parliament for Benin,” he said. “Regardless of wealth, we must be conscious of our environmental impact and strive to bring comfort and a sustainable future to all.”
For over four decades, Yeoh has built an iconic career that has made her one of the most prominent Asian actors in Hollywood. In 2023, she made history becoming the first actor of Asian descent to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. She has starred in over 60 films, including the James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies; Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Memoirs of a Geisha; Sunshine; The Lady; Crazy Rich Asians; Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; and sci-fi franchise TV series Star Trek: Discovery. Through her work, she has challenged the traditional views of Asian women by creating strong female roles.
Appointed in 2016 as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Sustainable Development Goals, Yeoh is committed to raising awareness and mobilizing support for the SDGs, sustainable fashion and disaster-preparedness. In addition, she is a strong advocate for road safety and has recently participated in a UN campaign #StreetsForLife with JCDecaux to raise awareness in response to the global road safety crisis.
Yeoh has visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China to help launch the Pandas for the Global Goals campaign and has collaborated with National Geographic to produce the documentary, Among the Great Apes with Michelle Yeoh, while emphasizing the importance of responsible consumerism and ethical business practices. Her appointment as a member of the International Olympic Committee in October 2023 has given her the power to promote global understanding and goodwill through sports.
“Our true identity as human beings lies not in our differences but in our collective ability to embrace and include every individual, regardless of their background or beliefs,” she said. “It is through this acceptance and unity that we uncover the essence of our shared humanity.”
Nile Rodgers receives the 2024 Crystal Award for his extraordinary efforts to make the world a more peaceful, equal and inclusive place through his music, his exemplary commitment to fighting systemic racism, inequality and injustice, and by championing innovative youth voices to decision-making tables.
Rodgers is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner, Apple Music Producer-in-Residence, Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman, and Hipgnosis Songs Co-Founder. With CHIC, Rodgers pioneered a musical language with hits like “Le Freak” and sparked hip-hop with “Good Times” and “Rapper’s Delight”. His work in The CHIC Organization – including Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out”), David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”) and Madonna (“Like a Virgin”) – has led to sales of 500+ million albums, while his Grammy Award-winning collaborations with Daft Punk (“Random Access Memories”) and Beyoncé (“Renaissance”) are at the vanguard of contemporary hits.
Rodgers’s activism began as a teen Black Panther in New York. He participated in Live Aid in 1985 and the Concert for Ukraine in 2023. After 9/11, he co-founded the We Are Family Foundation, promoting cultural diversity while empowering young people to change the world.
“My parents socialized me to care about people and give to others though we were ourselves financially poor,” he said. “When music gave me the opportunity to reach hearts the world over, I realized I’d been given a priceless gift. When I give that gift to others, I get back more than the wealthiest person on earth.”