Emerging Europe opens applications to recognise the region’s best in its annual awards programme

Emerging Europe has opened applications to governmental and non-governmental organisations and businesses that, in 2020, ran initiatives and projects with the ambition of boosting sustainable and innovation-based development in the 23 countries of Central and South-East Europe and the Caucasus. 

“Our organisation has always contributed to the social, economic and democratic growth of the region, but with the launch of our Future of Emerging Europe Programme in the autumn of 2020, we decided to focus even more on the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” says Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner at Emerging Europe.  

“The aim for the 2021 awards is to put more emphasis on Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG),” he adds. 

As a result, the awards categories reflect five critical dimensions: People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership and Peace, and look at ten key areas that are vital for the future of the region, as defined by Emerging Europe: future-proof education, innovative and inclusive health and social care, green energy and sustainable lifestyles, first-people economies and inclusive entrepreneurship, regional collaboration and modern and future-proof policymaking, and finally, democracy and the rule of law and media freedom and responsible reporting. 

“To solve the most pressing challenges faced by societies across our region and beyond, it is more important than ever that organisations find a way to work together in a spirit of multilateralism. In recent years, the Emerging Europe Awards have served as a great platform for bringing together leading organisations and highlighting the important work they are doing across CEE. I’m delighted to see a focus on ESG and the Sustainable Development Goals embedded in this year’s awards process, and proud that PwC Central and Eastern Europe will continue to play a role in supportingthis valuable initiative,” says Agnieszka Gajewska, PwC Global International Development Leader, CEE Public Sector and Infrastructure Leader and CEE ESG Leader at PwC in Central and Eastern EuropeGajewska is also a member of the Emerging Europe Council. 

The categories are complemented with several others that result from Emerging Europe’s research, such as Business-Friendly City and the Investment Promotion Agency of the Year, or those given to individualsincluding the Princess Marina Sturdza Award and the Professor Günter Verheugen Award, both chosen by the Emerging Europe Council, and the Public Figure of the Year, which is selected by the Emerging Europe editorial team. 

Emerging Europe Public Figure of the Year 2021 has already been awarded to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition movement, for her unswerving commitment to bringing about democratic change in Belarus, despite being forced into exile and despite the imprisonment of her husband, is an inspiration to people across the world. 

“I am extremely honoured and humbled to receive the Public Figure of the Year Award. The work that Emerging Europe is doing – putting the spotlight on a region that is often misunderstood and underrepresented – is extremely important. We need more subtle and in-depth reporting on Central and Eastern Europe, and we know what serious risks and dangers journalists encounter doing their job,” Mrs Tikhanovskaya wrote in her acceptance remarks. 

The previous laureates of Emerging Europe awards include Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, European Public Prosecutor Laura Codruţa Kövesi, Professor Günter Verheugen, a former vice president of the European Commission, and Goran Bregović, a globally recognised Bosnian musician. 

The Future of Emerging Europe Summit and Awards is scheduled to take place in mid-September 2021 in Brussels.  

All 2021 winners will receive trophies that were designed by two Hungarian students who won a trophy design contest in 2018 — Barbara Szőke and Bálint Szalai from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest. 

To apply for the awards, follow the links to individual categories below: 



Future-Proof Education Initiative of the Year 

Health and Social Care Initiative of the Year 

Young Empowerment Initiative of the Year 

Artistic Achievement of the Year 



Green Energy Initiative of the Year 

Sustainable Lifestyles Initiative of the Year 



People-first Economy Initiative of the Year 

Inclusive Entrepreneurship Initiative of the Year 

Global Champion of the Year 

Foreign Investor of the Year 

Investment Promotion Agency of the Year (Emerging Europe research) 

Business-Friendly City of the Year (Emerging Europe survey) 



Regional Collaboration Initiative of the Year 

Modern and Future-Proof Policymaking Initiative of the Year 



Democracy and the Rule of Law Initiative of the Year 

Media Freedom and Responsible Reporting Initiative of the Year 


Young Influencer of the Year 

Female Business Leader of the Year 

Public Figure of the Year (selected by Emerging Europe) 

Marina Sturdza Award (selected by the Emerging Europe Council) 

Günter Verheugen Award (selected by the Emerging Europe Council)