Free Societies

Announcing the 2022 Templeton Freedom Award finalists

Templeton Finalists 2022

Awarded annually since 2004, Atlas Network’s Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. This prestigious award honors Sir John’s legacy by recognizing Atlas Network’s partner organizations for exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise and the advancement of public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust, and is presented live during Atlas Network’s 2022 Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in New York City. The winning organization receives a US$100,000 grand prize and the runners-up each receive US$20,000. Atlas Network is excited to announce the following organizations as the finalists of the 2022 Templeton Freedom Award.

Adam Smith Institute (United Kingdom)

When COVID-19 reached the United Kingdom and the government began to lock down the country, Adam Smith Institute mobilized to ensure those lockdown policies were both wise and respectful of human freedom. Coordinating with partners in the U.K. and around the world, the Institute worked tirelessly to identify errors in policy that needlessly limited essential rights with little public health benefit. For instance, when the government’s contact tracing app forced individuals to isolate even when they had not meaningfully interacted with a person who tested positive, Adam Smith Institute’s research and publicity efforts led to public officials revising their COVID rules to allow the country to get moving again. The institute also pushed for the government to loosen isolation requirements for twice-vaccinated individuals, restoring freedom and dignity to millions of people. They advanced market-based reforms to speed the pandemic response and save thousands of lives by helping prevent a National Health Service monopoly over testing and vaccine distribution and involving multiple public and private organizations to decentralize these important services. Adam Smith Institute’s efforts protected essential rights and led to a more prudent policy response across the United Kingdom.

Advocata Institute (Sri Lanka)

Advocata Institute has spent years mitigating Sri Lanka’s looming economic crisis, arguing for critical free-market reforms. That work—and their frequent appearance in major local and international media outlets—has earned the organization a reputation across the country as a leading and reliable voice on economic analysis. Now that a financial crisis has come and inflation and shortages abound, Advocata is continuing its efforts to advance sound policy. Their work focuses on improving outcomes in both the short and long term. For example, Advocata took the politically unpopular position that price controls were exacerbating shortages of critical goods and encouraged legislators to end them. Lawmakers listened and lifted price controls on everything but medicine, and the shortages lightened in severity. In the long term, the organization is determined to set Sri Lanka on a path out of the financial crisis by reforming the country’s tax structure, privatizing the country’s loss-incurring state-owned enterprises, and restructuring the public debt. Policymakers across party lines are now open to Advocata’s market-based policy recommendations, and the Institute is reaching a growing audience with sound policy that will improve lives for all Sri Lankans.

Foro Regulación Inteligente (Spain)

Stifling regulation has long plagued Spain’s Madrid region, driving up housing prices, limiting individuals’ ability to choose their careers, and increasing taxes. Atlas Network partner Foro Regulación Inteligente is tackling the problem head-on. Their comprehensive efforts have contributed to a number of impressive policy reforms, including the repeal of 170 regulatory restrictions, the passage of three laws eliminating occupational licensing requirements, and the removal of regulatory barriers to new housing development and the simplification of the permitting process. Those housing reforms helped open the door for Madrid Nuevo Norte—among the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe. This deregulation is expected to add US$5 billion in new economic activity and lead to 50,000 new jobs, a boon for the people of Madrid. Lawmakers and the public alike have taken notice of these exciting developments—the organization’s recently published book Liberalismo a la madrileña reached #1 on Amazon’s politics list and sparked policy debates across Spain and abroad. Already, regional and local governments have taken inspiration from Madrid’s new trajectory and are exploring policies that contribute to greater access to opportunity across Spain.

Goldwater Institute (United States)

In the United States, occupational licensing requirements impede or completely prevent many citizens from working in their chosen professions. From dentistry to cosmetology, one in four jobs requires a license, and many of these licenses require hundreds or even thousands of hours of training. Even when aspiring professionals do satisfy these onerous, expensive procedures, they are often forced to repeat the process if they relocate to a different state. Recognizing that these laws often needlessly keep people from achieving a better life, Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work initiative pushes for state-based licensing reforms across the country. Arguing that workers don’t lose skills when they cross borders, Goldwater Institute worked in partnership with like-minded organizations to encourage the adoption of a universal recognition plan honoring out-of-state licenses. Since Arizona became the first state to pass the reform in 2019, 21 states have expanded license recognition based on Goldwater Institute’s recommendations, and more states are expected to implement streamlined rules by the end of 2023. Already, nearly 5,000 people have benefited from this reform in Arizona alone, and that number will continue to grow as more states adopt universal license recognition.

Livres (Brazil)

In Brazil, anti-competitive practices and regulations discouraged private investment in the crucial water and sanitation sector. The state-owned enterprises—which had a near monopoly over the system—failed to provide adequate services to the vast majority of the country’s inhabitants. This meant that millions of people were forced to live their lives in the midst of open sewage and without access to clean water. Atlas Network partner Livres decided to take action, and they proposed a market-based solution. Convinced that allowing competition would lead to greatly improved and expanded infrastructure, they supported the now-passed New Sanitation Framework bill. This law ends the government’s near monopoly over the sanitation and water treatment sectors and opens the door for private investment and public-private partnerships. Thanks to the New Sanitation Framework, since July 2020, about US$14 billion of private sector investment has been guaranteed, helping to provide clean water, quality sanitation, and the recognition of basic human dignity to nearly 20 million people in over 200 towns and cities. This reform sets Brazil on track to meet its goal of providing clean water and sanitation services to nearly all of its citizens by 2033.

Pacific Legal Foundation (United States)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governors across the United States issued emergency declarations and seized unilateral power, effectively cutting legislatures out of the lawmaking process. When it became clear that governors would not return responsibility to legislators after the initial virus outbreak, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) and a network of state-based think tanks pushed back. PLF helped draft, advance, and defend legislation limiting gubernatorial power in an emergency. Bills based on their work now require ongoing emergency declarations to be approved by a state’s legislature after a set number of days. Other provisions were designed to ensure such declarations offer measured responses to well-defined emergencies, preventing sweeping restrictions on human freedom. These bills also ensure that judges decide on legal challenges to emergency declarations in a timely manner. So far, 11 states have implemented legal reforms based on Pacific Legal Foundation’s work. In Pennsylvania, the bill bypassed the governor’s veto by becoming a state constitutional amendment. In Kentucky, the legislature overrode Governor Beshear’s veto, and PLF helped defeat his legal challenge to the law’s implementation. The organization’s efforts guarantee that governors can effectively respond to future emergent situations while curbing their overreach and enforcing constitutional safeguards.