In 1997, the first State of the World Forum Awards were presented to five extraordinary individuals who have made significant contributions to human development. The elegant blown glass sculpture awards were created by Dale Chihuly.

The five award recipients were:

General Lee Butler
Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command (1990-1994)

Dr. Theo Colborn
Senior Scientist, World Wildlife Fund/USA

Dr. Jane Goodall
Primatologist; Director, Gombe Stream Research Centre, Tanzania

Craig Kielburger
Founder, Free the Children

Muhammad Yunus
Managing Director, Grameen Bank