IUCN Congress recognises conservation greats

11 September 2012 | News story

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


Epiphyte of Borneo