IUCN President gets top WWF honours

09 December 2011 | News story

IUCN President Dr Ashok Khosla OBE, one of the world’s leading experts on the environment and sustainable development, has been awarded the 2011 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal.

A former director in the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr Khosla was also the founding director of the Indian government’s Office of Environmental Planning and Coordination – the first such agency in a developing country.

“I am honoured to receive this award, and for me it highlights the fundamental mission of pushing forward sustainable development in our world today,” says Dr Khosla. “Now more than ever, it is crucial that governments and non-governmental bodies rally to ensure global development is not at the cost of the finite natural resources on which we all depend.”

Born in India in 1940, Ashok Khosla’s career has been marked by innovation. After graduating from Cambridge University, he went on to Harvard University for doctoral studies and was involved in designing the world’s first undergraduate environmental studies programme there. At UNEP, he created and was Director of Infoterra, a global environmental information exchange.

Dr Khosla went on to found Development Alternatives, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation promoting commercially viable, environmentally friendly technologies.

Ashok Khosla will receive the medal today in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

With an academic background in natural sciences and experimental physics, Dr Khosla has served as advisor to the World Bank, the UN Development Programme and the Indian government, among others, and has also served as board member for numerous global environmental organisations – WWF International, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. He is currently President of IUCN, the Club of Rome and Co-Chair of the UN’s International Resource Panel.

“For nearly five decades, Ashok Khosla has been a pioneer in finding paths for development that can be sustained by the Earth's resources,” says Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “He has brought new economic opportunities to countless villages across India and beyond. And he has been a thought leader in the global effort to turn the idea of sustainable development into reality. As WWF celebrates its 50th anniversary, we are proud to celebrate Dr Khosla's extraordinary contributions.”

“Conserving the diversity of life on our planet is a prerequisite, no less than stabilizing the climate, for ensuring a livable future for our children," adds Dr Khosla. "Maintaining the life support systems that this biodiversity makes possible is not just a matter of ethics but of ecological necessity, one which we all need to work together to achieve.”

The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment.

Recipients of the award receive a gold medal in a sustainably-sourced rosewood box donated by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, a Rolex watch, and a certificate signed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Director General of WWF International.

Dr Ashok Khosla OBE joins a long line of conservation leaders, including the 2010 winner, Anatoly Belov, a Russian anti-poaching ranger working on the frontlines of tiger protection.

For more information, please contact:
Ewa Magiera, IUCN Communications, ewa.magiera@iucn.org, +41 79 856 76 26
Natalie Boudou, WWF International, nboudou@wwfint.org, +41 79 820 2898
Gemma Parkes, WWF International, gparkes@wwfint.org, +41 79 253 6386