Arts and Culture

2024 Crystal Award: Meet this year's winners

The cultural leaders receiving the 2024 Crystal Award are bridge-builders.

Crystal Awards 2024 winners: Diébédo Francis Kéré (left), Michelle Yeoh (middle) and Nile Rodgers (right). Image: Tino Pohlmann/Yu Tsai/Jill Furmanovsky.

Hilde Schwab
Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum Geneva
Joseph Fowler
Head, Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum
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Arts and Culture

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • This year's 30th Crystal Award goes to three exceptional global artists.
  • The winners are: Diébédo Francis Kéré, Michelle Yeoh and Nile Rodgers.
  • The awards will be presented on 15 January - you can watch it here.

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, we celebrate the enduring contributions to society of exceptional artists. The cultural leaders receiving the 2024 Crystal Award are bridge-builders. They connect us to each other, they help us reflect on the human condition, and they provide visions of the world that can cut through the limitations of short-term or linear thinking.

The 30th Annual Crystal Awardees

The winners of the 30th Annual Crystal Award are: world-renowned architect and 2022 Pritzker Prize recipient Diébédo Francis Kéré; Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), advocate for wildlife conservation and environmental protection and Oscar-winning actor Michelle Yeoh; and Grammy Award winning guitarist, composer, and humanitarian Nile Rodgers.

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Diébédo Francis Kéré receives the 2024 Crystal Award for his exemplary leadership in providing the Gando community the means towards a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable future through projects that focus on education, health and the environment.

Crystal Award 2024 winner Diébédo Francis Kéré
Diébédo Francis Kéré Image: Andrea Maretto.

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 in 2022; the Praemium Imperiale in 2023; and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, awarded for his first building, the Gando Primary School in Burkina Faso.

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. Regardless of wealth, we must be conscious of our environmental impact and strive to bring comfort and a sustainable future to all.

Diébédo Francis Kéré.

Kéré has developed innovative construction strategies that combine traditional building techniques and materials with modern construction methods. His use of local materials, local knowledge and local technologies creates holistic and sustainable design solutions. Currently, he is working on the Benin National Assembly, the Goethe-Institut 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’s been professor at TU Munich, and Yale University since 2019.

Michelle Yeoh

For over four decades, Michelle Yeoh has built an iconic career that’s made her one of the most prominent Asian actors in Hollywood. In 2023, Yeoh made history by becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. The internationally acclaimed actor has starred in over 60 films, including James Bond's 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 works, she has challenged the traditional views of Asian women by creating very strong female roles.

Michelle Yeoh.
Michelle Yeoh Image: Live to Love.

Appointed in 2016 as a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Yeoh is committed to raising awareness and mobilising support for the SDGs, sustainable fashion, and disaster preparedness. In addition, Yeoh is a strong advocate for road safety, and she is recently participating in an UN campaign #StreetsForLife with JCDecaux to raise awareness for road safety in response to the global road safety crisis.

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. It is through this acceptance and unity that we uncover the essence of our shared humanity.

Michelle Yeoh.

Raising awareness about wildlife conservation and climate change, she travelled to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China to help launch the Pandas for the Global Goals campaign in 2016 and 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 recent appointment as a member of the International Olympic Committee in October 2023 has endowed her with the power to promote global understanding and goodwill through sports.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers receives the 2024 Crystal Award for his extraordinary efforts to make the world a more peaceful, equal, and inclusive place through his iconic music, his exemplary commitment in fighting systemic racism, inequality, and injustice, and by championing innovative youth voices to decision-making tables.

2024 Crystal Awardee Nile Rodgers.
Nile Rodgers Image: Varkey Foundation.

Nile 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, Nile 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), have sold over 500 million albums, while his Grammy Award-winning collaborations with Daft Punk (Random Access Memories) and Beyoncé (Renaissance) reflect the vanguard of contemporary hits.

My parents socialized me to care about people and give to others though we were ourselves financially poor. 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.

Nile Rodgers.

Nile’s activism began as a teen Black Panther in New York. He participated in Live Aid, We Are The World and the Concert for Ukraine. After 9/11 Nile co-founded, We Are Family Foundation , promoting cultural diversity while empowering young people positively changing the world. Through his music Nile is trying to make the world a more peaceful, equal, and inclusive place.

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