2023 Grunin Prize Awarded at NYU Law

2023 Grunin Prize for Social Entrepreneurship Awarded at NYU Law

NEW YORK, June 9—The Grunin Center at NYU School of Law announced on June 6, 2023 the recipient of this year’s Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship.  The prize is awarded annually to lawyers working to further the goals of sustainability and human development, and rewards innovative projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and sustainable development.

The 2023 Grunin Prize was awarded to Gavi – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – Covax. At an early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent to Gavi that to end the global health crisis the world would not only need Covid-19 vaccines, but also needed to ensure that everyone in the world would have access to them. This triggered global leaders to call for a solution that would accelerate the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines and guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to them for people in all countries.  That solution was Covax – the world’s largest program for the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.  As the legal administrator of Covax, Gavi – the global health public-private partnership – entered into agreements with over 150 governments, guarantee arrangements with a number of countries and commercial banks, advance purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers, procurement agreements with UNICEF and Pan American Health Organization, and a range of financing agreements with a number of multilateral development banks. 

Gavi’s legal team played a leading role in the launch of Covax by drafting and negotiating different agreement with high- and low-income countries, humanitarian partners, development partners and pharmaceutical companies.  They created new legal, financial and insurance mechanisms to manage risks, which were critical to securing the participation of countries receiving the vaccines and from the vaccine makers.

Jelena Madir, General Counsel of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, oversaw this project and represents the Grunin Prize winning team.  Madir said: “COVAX was essentially a global risk-sharing mechanism – pooling resources from the world’s higher income economies to finance the research, development, procurement, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.  All while keeping the most important element at the forefront, which is facilitating global access of vaccines in an equitable and fair manner, helping deliver over 1.96 billion doses to lower income countries.  We are truly honored to receive this award and for the assistance from our external counsel, Linklaters.  It is imperative that we take the innovations and lessons learned from the implementation of COVAX towards strengthening future pandemic preparedness response mechanisms, whose lessons could also help with other issues the world is grappling with, including climate change.” 

Also announced yesterday was the first ever Grunin Prize for Sustained Commitment, which was awarded to Professor Helen Scott of NYU Law for her extraordinary dedication to supporting law students who are intent on doing good within their transactional and business law practices.

The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship is the first law school based center dedicated to enhancing the community of lawyers and legal institutions engaged in social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and sustainable development. It was established in 2017 with a generous endowment from NYU Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, along with the Grunin Foundation.

“Once again, the Grunin Prize finalists made our job as judges very hard,” said Jay Grunin, co-founder and chairman of the Grunin Foundation. “All of the projects and legal teams that made these projects a reality are impressive.  I am delighted that, through the Grunin Prize, we can shine a light on the impactful work lawyers are contributing to advancing the fields of social entrepreneurship, impact investing and sustainable development.  I am also pleased that a new Grunin Prize has been created to celebrate individuals who are making a sustained commitment to these fields.  As our first awardee, Professor Scott exemplifies the extraordinary commitment that this new prize is intended to honor.  Her legacy looms large as her students, both current and former, make their mark on the world.”

Deborah Burand, professor of clinical law and faculty co-director of the Grunin Center at NYU Law, said, “In awarding these two prizes, we’re celebrating how the fields of social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and sustainable development are being advanced by legal practitioners and educators.  The contributions of intellectual capital by creative legal teams like Gavi and dedicated legal educators like Professor Scott are shaping these fields for a better world.”


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