© Simon Maage / Unsplash


Living democracy

„Rarely has it been so clear: Humanity and its planet need change. For peace and freedom. For the environment and climate. For equal opportunities and social balance“, says Uwe Jean Heuser, jury chairman of the Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftspreis (Helmut Schmidt Future Prize). For this reason, the three partners – the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung, DIE ZEIT and THE NEW INSTITUTE – have initiated the Helmut Schmidt Future Prize in 2022, an award that will from now on be presented annually to an international personality for their innovative achievements in the fields of democracy, society and technology.

The Hel­mut Schmidt Fu­ture Pri­ze 2023

Finnish social democrat Sanna Marin is the award winner of the Helmut Schmidt Future Prize 2023 which was awarded on May 4th at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater.

“The Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftspreis goes to a pioneering European with clear values and her own political style. She has brought Finland through the corona pandemic most effectively. Sanna Marin set out to make the world a better place, not simply to be a politician. That remains her standard. She has already shaped a new and effective style of politics, shown a clear edge against the Russian aggressor and advanced climate protection. In addition, Sanna Marin has huge potential for the future – namely to continue to make her country, Europe, the world a little safer, fairer and greener with a clear view of the realities,“ says Uwe Jean Heuser, chairman of the Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftspreis-jury.

Igor Levit, pianist and jury member, played Beethoven and Schubert and explained in conversation with ZEIT editor-in-chief Giovanni di Lorenzo why he would rather give up playing piano than his political activism. Another highlight: Ella Elia Anschein and six future creators presented in a poetic recording the results of the Helmut Schmidt Future Festival – where young visionaries developed ideas for a better future together with Emilia Milla Fester, Kübra Gümüsay and other pulse generators at the Leuphana University. Tagesthemen host Aline Abboud led through the event.

Watch the recording and the highlights of the award ceremony here:

© Leuphana Universität

Helmut Schmidt Future Festival

What makes a new idea a good idea?

Many people have good ideas. Quite a few even become rich with them. But which ideas really have a future and deliver what they promise: to be a sustainable contribution to a better world? Innovations can inspire. But they only become significant when they are designed with responsibility.

The Helmut Schmidt Future Prize has been given its own future festival. On May 3th and 4th 2023, nearly 50 future creators and pulse generators came together on the campus of Leuphana University to explore responsible change and bring new ideas to the world. Among the participants were Emilia Milla Fester (youngest member of the Bundestag for Die Grünen), Kübra Gümüsay (author), Anne Lamp (founder and CEO of Traceless) and Philipp von der Wippel (co-founder and chairman of Project Together). At the Helmut Schmidt Future Award ceremony, the key ideas were presented in form of a poetic recording on stage.


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The Hel­mut Schmidt Fu­ture Pri­ze 2022

Vanessa Nakate is the first award winner of the new Helmut Schmidt Future Prize.

This is how the jury explains their choice: „Vanessa Nakate is one of the leading voices for climate justice, a voice of the young generation, of the future, of the Global South. She is advocating for Uganda, Africa and beyond, for a large part of the planet that is particularly hard hit by climate change and least culpable for it. She is courageous, innovative, responsible, and represents many activists who are defining a new global common good. We look forward to learning much more from Vanessa Nakate in the future, and we are pleased and respectful to award her the Helmut Schmidt Future Prize 2022.“

Watch the highlights of the award ceremony here:

The Fu­ture Fes­ti­val 2022

As a supporting program for the Future Prize, the three partners organized a „Zukunftsfestival“ (Future Festival) with innovative and lively events in the fields of ecology, digitalization, civil society, democracy and the welfare state – as a special part of the „Lange Nacht der ZEIT“ (Long Night of DIE ZEIT) 2022.

Watch the events of the Future Festival here:

The Pri­ze

„Politics is not simply thinking, but also acting.“

(Helmut Schmidt, 1969)

Helmut Schmidt understood democracy as a struggle for the best possible solutions. He trusted in the strength of rational elements and was convinced that a compromise had to be reached at the end of intensive debates on political issues. According to Schmidt’s classical understanding, political decisions were taken in parliaments by democratically legitimized parties.

At the same time, Schmidt cultivated an exchange of views and debate across milieus with broad sections of society, and „trust“ for him carried immense significance as a political category. He attached great importance to exploring complex problems and illuminating them in a well-founded manner from different perspectives. This explains his thirst for knowledge and his openness to new and interdisciplinary approaches. Schmidt recognized early on that the future issues of the late 20th century could not be resolved within the narrow confines of the nation-state. Rather, he was convinced that European answers and global initiatives were required.

In the future, the Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftspreis will be presented annually to an international personality whose significant work stands for innovative achievements in democracy and the common good.

The mem­bers of the ju­ry

The In­itia­tors

The Hel­mut Schmidt Fu­ture Fes­ti­val is a joint in­itia­ti­ve with

We li­ke to thank the Ot­to Group and the ZEIT Foun­da­ti­on for their fri­end­ly sup­port of the Fu­ture Fes­ti­val


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