Milan Meyberg wins Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award

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7 November 2023

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Milan Meyberg wins Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award

Milan Meyberg is the winner of the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award 2023. He received the trophy from Theo Bovens, chairman of the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award Foundation, during the Award Ceremony at Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo. Attached to the award is a cash prize of 35,000 euros with which the winner can boost his expedition.

Milan Meyberg, founder of Emissary of GAIA, wants to use artificial intelligence (AI) to save nature by giving forests, jungles, rivers, mountains and oceans a personality, a face, a voice and a character. By literally giving nature a voice, Meyberg enables nature to represent itself in conversations that are about nature. He will use the cash prize to set up a pilot project to have the Arctic represented by an AI (avatar).


The award was presented for the 5th time. After a sparkling opening by dancers from the Urban Dance Studio from Venlo, the three finalists pitched their projects to the audience. After a short round of questions, the jury led by Maurits Groen came to a decision and Theo Bovens announced the winner.

The jury was hugely impressed with all the candidates, but Milan Meyberg was chosen as the winner. The jury found his innovation to give nature a voice groundbreaking. 'When nature starts talking back, you can't ignore it. With this concept we can make a big leap in the awareness of how we, as humans, stand in relation to nature,' Green said. According to the jury, there is still much to discover and there are still a lot of questions, but this concept deserves to be developed further.

For Maurits Groen, it was his first time as chairman of the jury. 'I am really impressed by the inventiveness, passion and perseverance of all three candidates, who all had a very different innovation. It was not easy to choose!'



The 2023 edition had a record number of candidates with dozens of entries. From that group, the jury selected six finalists for the pitch rounds. From those, 3 contenders for the award emerged. Besides the winner, these were Fonger Ypma and Rong Wang. With his company Arctic Reflections, Fonger Ypma wants to not only stop the melting of the polar ice, but also let the polar ice grow in order to combat global warming. He plans to do this by using hundreds of pumps to spray ice water over the frozen cap, making the ice thicker and wider and thus making it last longer in the summer. Rong Wang, with her startup EGGXPERT, is tackling the waste mountain of egg shells by upcycling them into a valuable raw material for new products such as supplements, cosmetics and as an ingredient for developing bioplastics. Egg shells are at the top of industrial waste: 8.5 million tons worldwide.

Special guests


Special guests at the award ceremony were Floortje Dessing, program maker, entrepreneur, publisher and writer of travel books, and anthropologist Diederik Veerman, nature sports innovator and program maker. Both worked closely with namesake of the award the late Marc Cornelissen. Dessing called on the audience to live in your own little bubble as well and consciously as possible. "Because when you all do what you can, a movement is created. Veerman implored those present to claim your own power above all else. 'Start with yourself, look for where you get hope from and address that.'

About the award


The Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award is an incentive award for talented sustainability pioneers who, in the spirit of Marc Cornelissen, are committed to the world of tomorrow. The award consists of a memento and a cash prize of €35,000. The amount should be spent on concrete activities that can take the winner's project to the next phase.

About Marc Cornelissen


Thinking, dreaming, daring and doing, across geographical, scientific and organizational boundaries: that was Marc Cornelissen until his unexpected death in 2015. A professional adventurer, he had one passion: fighting climate change and protecting our planet. He had the courage, leadership and entrepreneurship to choose other avenues to raise awareness of the importance of climate change and to support research on it.

Previous winners


The first winner of the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award in 2017 was Rotterdam professor Martine Bouman. A year later, the award went to malaria researcher Bart Knols. After a two-year break due to corona, Panos Kouris won the award in 2021. Last year, Ricco Fiorito was awarded the trophy.