2022 Grunin Prize Awarded at NYU Law

2022 Grunin Prize for Social Entrepreneurship Awarded at NYU Law

NEW YORK, June 7—The 2022 Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship was announced today.  This prize recognizes lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development, and rewards the innovation and potential impact of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. 

The winning project, Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation Program tackles marine conservation, which despite the ocean contributing an estimated US$3 trillion per year to global GDP, is one of the most underfunded UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tackling that challenge, in November 2021, The Nature Conservancy and the Government of Belize closed the world’s largest debt refinancing for ocean conservation to date.  The US$ 364 million debt conversion reduced Belize’s debt by 12 percent of GDP, created long-term sustainable financing of approximately US$ 4 million annually for conservation, and locked in commitment to protect 30% of Belize’s ocean, in addition to a range of other conservation measures.

Stephen Valdes-Robles, Senior Attorney at The Nature Conservancy, oversaw this project and represents the Grunin Prize winning team. “The magic of TNC’s Sustainable Debt financing like the Blue Bonds Project is its scalability and replicability. The initial debt restructuring transaction can place a government in a better fiscal position than before and can create a long-term, 20-year-plus funding stream to support conservation in their country. What’s more, it is not limited to ocean conservation—the savings created by these deals can be used for any number of environmental or social purposes. We are honored to receive this award and for all the outstanding pro bono assistance we received to make it a reality. We hope that others are able to use this model to scale impact around the world,” said Valdes-Robles.

Established in 2017 with a generous endowment from NYU Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, and the Grunin Foundation, the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship, the first center of its kind at a law school, is dedicated to enhancing the community of lawyers and legal institutions engaged in social entrepreneurship and impact investing and accelerating its effective participation in these fields. The Grunin Center does this through education, knowledge dissemination, and field-building collaborations.

“When a Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship was first proposed to the law school by my wife Linda and me more than 6 years ago, little did we realize the magnitude of lawyer interest and involvement in this space.  The Grunin Prize is a rightfully due public recognition for these tireless and often unrecognized legal practitioners.  As a judge in the Grunin Prize selection process, I have to say that I am in awe of all the nominees, not just the finalists.  They are the best in their fields, and I simply cannot adequately express how honored I am to be a part of this appreciation process.”

“This year’s mix of Grunin Prize finalists demonstrates the extraordinary range of legal skills and expertise that lawyers from around the globe are bringing to the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing.  The issues they are tackling are also diverse and important.   These 2022 Grunin Prize finalists are bringing to the table not only their legal know-how but also a passion for making a better world.  They are an inspiration to all of us working within this growing legal community of practice,” said Deborah Burand, professor of clinical law and faculty co-director of the Grunin Center at NYU Law.

Media Contact

Michael Orey
914-330-5555 (mobile)

The Nature Conservancy
Stephen Valdes-Robles