Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina have been jointly recognised for their work championing causes that have “great importance” to them as they collected the 2023 Crystal Award.
The couple, who were appointed UN Goodwill Ambassadors for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in April 2020, received the award for their leadership in addressing food security, climate change and environmental conservation at the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters in Switzerland.
Presenting the award in front of global and cultural leaders, Hilde Schwab, chairwoman and co-founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum, said it is given to “artists who connect us to each other, who help us reflect on the human condition and provide visions of the world that enable us to reimagine a bright, more inclusive future for everyone”.
Luther star Elba appeared on the stage to collect the award alongside his wife Sabrina, who took to the lectern asking the audience to forgive her for being “a bit nervous” because it was usually her husband who conducted the speeches.
She said: “It’s such a privilege to be honoured in your company…this is unbelievable for me. It’s actually my second award ever, so I’m really excited.
“I also want to thank the World Economic Forum for this tremendous honour.
“Idris and I are obviously both extremely grateful and extremely humbled by this joint recognition for our work championing causes that not only have great importance to us, but all of which are inextricably linked and should matter to everyone in this room.
“I am so proud to say that to recognise us and the work that we do, is to recognise all that we must do to continue to address and improve food security, gender equality, youth empowerment and glorious, glorious nature.”
The WEF said the pair recently visited an IFAD-supported project in Sierra Leone, where they met farmers who received support for rice production and rural finance after the Ebola crisis, in their roles as UN Goodwill Ambassadors.
During her speech, Sabrina shared a message about the overlooked role of small-scale farmers all around the world and said she felt “privileged” to be able to speak at the WEF meeting “not as a voice for, but as a voice with, shouting for change”.
Concluding the speech, Elba, 50, said the couple wanted to leave the conference with the message: “Please do not lose courage.”
He added: “It takes stamina to stay the course. With greater access to finance, to markets, to resources, to technology, to knowledge and to people, we can define a different future.”
East Londoner turned Hollywood star Elba was made an OBE in the 2016 New Year Honours list for his services to drama.
After achieving fame in cult crime drama The Wire, Elba has gone on to star in blockbusters such as Prometheus and took the lead as Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
The WEF said his charitable efforts are as “commendable as his acting accolades”.
He has supported causes relating to HIV/AIDS, at-risk and disadvantaged youths, health and education as well as working with the UN and the Department for International Development during the Ebola crisis and filming campaigns in support of Unicef and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, Sabrina has promoted gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls worldwide over the years and worked with a number of civil society organisations including, Conservation International on environmental issues, the WEF said.
The Crystal Awards celebrate the achievements of leading artists who are “bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society”, it said on the WEF website.