George Monbiot awarded Hay Festival Medal for Journalism

Journalist and activist George Monbiot was awarded the Hay Festival Medal for Journalism today (Sunday 30 May) at Hay Festival 2021. 

Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year in 2012, Hay Festival Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry. With Athena as muse, silversmith Christopher Hamilton crafts the medals locally. 

Monbiot is the first recipient of a Hay Festival Medal for 2021, with other medal winners to be announced during the Festival. 

Monbiot is taking part in this year’s Hay-on-Earth strand, a sustainability-focused series of events throughout the 12 days of the Festival, exploring current issues, new developments, and technical advances.

He is presenting Everything Is Finite: an exploration of how, for hundreds of years, we have lived as if the Earth were infinite, and asks what are the ethical and economic shifts required to accept the finite nature of our world?

Monbiot is known for his environmental and political activism. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and is the author of Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding and Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis. He is the founder of The Land is Ours, a campaign for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the United Kingdom.

Monbiot said: “I’m over the moon to receive this medal, and very grateful to Hay Festival not only for the award but for all its brilliant work over the years. Anyone working on environmental and social justice must swim against the prevailing currents: though these are the most important issues on Earth, they are all too often marginalised and neglected. So it’s a lovely surprise to be recognised for my work in these areas. Thank you.”

Hay Festival sustainability director Andy Fryers said: "We are honoured to celebrate George Monbiot at this year's Festival with our Medal for Journalism, celebrating a career in which he has worked tirelessly, often at great personal risk, to bring us stories that shine light on the biggest issue of our times. As we look to the UN Climate Conference this autumn and this pivotal moment in history, we need voices like Monbiot's more than ever."

Hay Festival 2021 started on Wednesday 26 May, bringing writers and readers together for an inspiring array of conversations, debates, workshops, and performances online. Over the past 12 days, more than 300 acclaimed writers, global policy makers, historians, poets, pioneers, and innovators have taken part, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time, from building a better world post-pandemic to tackling the compound crises of climate change, inequality, and challenges to truth and democracy. 

Festivalgoers can register for free for the final events now at