IUCN Congress recognises conservation greats

11 September 2012 | News story
5 CommentsWrite a comment

Today, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, IUCN awarded its two highest medals to outstanding individuals of the conservation world, and eleven other conservation greats were granted honorary membership of IUCN.

Sir David Attenborough was honoured with IUCN’s highest conservation award, the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal, which has been presented at every General Assembly and Congress since 1963. Awarded in memory of the life and work of Dr John C. Phillips, a pioneer of the conservation movement and specialist in species classification and genetics, it is in recognition of outstanding service in international conservation. Former recipients of this medal include Indira Gandhi, Professor E. O. Wilson and Dr Luc Hoffmann.

A British naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David has reached the masses with his captivating programmes on natural history, creating awareness of the natural world and its vulnerability, and, over the course of the last fifty years, inspiring generations to protect and conserve our planet.

“IUCN is an organisation of enormous importance for all of us who care about the natural world. There is no other international organization quite like it, none which is quite so scientifically based, none whose compliments I would value more highly”, says Sir David in a video message to the IUCN Congress.

The winner of the Harold Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to conservation of nature and natural resources was Dr. Wolfgang E. Burhenne of Germany, the Executive Governor of the International Council on Environmental Law. Established at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok in 2004, this is the second time that the Coolidge Memorial Medal has been awarded.

IUCN owes a great deal of its global leadership in environmental law to Dr. Burhenne. The award recognizes his very significant contributions to international environmental treaties and specifically to IUCN as Chair and Deputy Chair of IUCN’s Commission on Environmental Law (1960-1990), Legal Adviser to the Union (1990-1994), long standing member of the IUCN Council and a constant source of support to the Secretariat at every General Assembly and Congress since 1950. In the true spirit of Harold Coolidge, Dr. Burhenne has also provided inspiration and encouragement to many individuals throughout his career who have gone on to become leading figures in the field of environmental law.

Honorary Membership of IUCN, which recognizes outstanding services to the conservation of nature and natural resources, is presented by the World Conservation Congress, on the recommendation of the IUCN Council, to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to furthering the goals of the Union. Today, eleven such individuals were honoured:

• Dr Abdulaziz Abuzinada, Saudi Arabia
• Ms Angela Cropper, Trinidad and Tobago
• Dr Aila Keto, Australia
• His Excellency, The State President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana
• Mr Veit Koester, Denmark
• Dr Russell Mittermeier, USA
• Dr Ian Player, South Africa
• Professor Nicholas Robinson, USA
• Dr Marina Silva, Brazil
• Mr Achim Steiner, Germany
• Professor Randolph Robert Thaman, Fiji


1 Stephen Corry
How come Ian Khama, responsible for trying to destroy the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, gets an award?
September 21, 2013 - 01:56
2 Losalini.Qaloewai University of the South Pacific
you deserve it sir
Congrads to Professor.Randy from Fiji......thank you sir..!!!!!!..you deserve it..:)..lolomas

September 24, 2012 - 23:29
3 Chris Galliers Game Rangers Association of Africa
Game Rangers Association of Africa Patron Honoured
Congratulations to all but particularly Dr Ian Player, our patron. Certainly well deserved! Also congratulations to our honorary member, His Excellency Seretse Khama Ian Khama. We are very proud.
September 14, 2012 - 07:59
4 Wren Green NZ Ecological Society
Deserving Women
While David Attenborough has a global profile and is an inspired choice for the John C Phillips Memorial Medal, I'd like to pay tribute to the three women recognised who, each in their own way, have done an enormous amount for conservation and nature over decades, often at great personal cost. May they continue to be inspiring role models.
September 14, 2012 - 01:27
5 Reece Thornley
No one more deserving!
David Attenborough is my idol and he has done more than most to reach the masses and to convey a message of conservation and protection. It really made my day to learn that he was presented with this prestigious award by the IUCN. It is programs such as Frozen Plant, Life on Earth and State of the Planet that have made the message so clear to everyone that it needs protecting. I can only dream of winning such an award. Amazing.
September 11, 2012 - 22:24
  • 1-5
  • 5
Write a comment