The Thor Heyerdahl International Maritime Environmental Award was launched in 1999 by Thor Heyerdahl (1914 – 2002) and the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.
To qualify for the award, the nominee must have made an outstanding contribution for the benefit of the environment.
Eligible candidates are legal entities, organisations and individuals worldwide. Government agencies cannot receive the prize.
The Ocean Cleanup won the Heyerdahl Award 2017, for the combination of technological innovation, awarenessrising and addressing the global problem of marine litter.
Rolls-Royce Marine was given the award for 2014. The expert committee, chaired by Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Peter Hinchliffe, says in its reasoning that Rolls-Royce has taken a holistic approach to vessel design and has succeeded in combining a number of innovative solutions that increase energy efficiency and contribute to significant reductions in emissions. The committee emphasized that the measures are adaptable for a broad range of ship types and thus have the potential to reduce emissions from many segments of the world fleet.
Eidesvik AS won the Thor Heyerdahl Award 2011. The Norwegian shipping company won the prestigeous environmental award because of their groundbreaking adaption of fuel cell technology in offshore service vessels and use of LNG
Farstad Shipping was awarded the 2009 Heyerdahl Environmental Award for its commitment to improving environmental standards in the shipping industry.With its two new offshore vessels, Far Samson and Far Serenade, Farstad Shipping have been recognised for their high environmental ambitions, proactive approach to managing environmental issues, and installation of innovative and more eco-friendly systems on board their vessels.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) was awarded the Heyerdahl Environmental Award 2007 for its commitment to improving the environmental standards in the shipping industry. Over a period of six years, WWL successfully reduced SO2 emissions by 75 550 tons. That is the amount of SO2, emitted by the city of London over a similar period.
The Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Børge Brende, presented the Award to the Japanese company NYK Line during an Award Ceremony in Tokyo. NYK Line was awarded for their outstanding commitment to continuously improving their environmental performance beyond what is required by rules and regulations.
The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) received the Award particularly for their efforts in connection with the Prestige accident. Dr. Helmut Sohmen, the Chairman of IOTPF and Managing Director Dr. Ian White received the award on behalf of the organisation.
The first Heyerdahl Award was won by The Green Award Foundation for the incentive-based system Green Award to spotlight shipping companies investing in the quality of ship and crew. A Green Award ship meets high, but manageable technical and managerial requirements.
In 1969 and 1970, the Norwegian adventurer and explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic on the RA I and RA II papyrus rafts. While proving that a papyrus raft could have crossed the Atlantic in pre-Columbian times, Heyerdahl also made first hand observations of the world oceans becoming polluted.
He made reports to the UN and was asked by the UN Secretary-General to make daily pollution observations during the Ra II voyage. Hardened clumps of tar were collected on 43 days of the 57-day voyage. The reports were one of the elements forming the background to the international community's extensive efforts to improve the state of the ocean. This in turn led to the formation of the UN maritime sub-organisation International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Following the expedition, a book was published about the Ra expeditions, as well as a documentary film which was nominated for an Oscar. The voyage helped to raise awareness of the need to stop the pollution of the world’s seas. It also gave support to the work by IMO to protect the marine environment through binding international shipping regulation such as International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the MARPOL Convention, which was first adopted in 1973.
In accordance with increased knowledge of environmental problems and life in the oceans, IMO continues to develop new agreements and regulations for the purpose of further improving conditions of marine life.