IUCN Congress recognises conservation greats

11 September 2012 | Media statement

Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, 11 September 2012 (IUCN) - 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

More information

• For a broadcast copy of the acceptance speech by Sir David Attenborough please contact IUCN’s Borjana Pervan, Media Relations Manager, tel +82 (0)10 2150 6673, email [email protected].
Information on the John C Phillips Memorial Medal
Information on the Harold Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal
Information on honorary membership of IUCN and background information on each of the recipients of honorary membership

Maggie Roth [email protected] 010‐2150‐8732
Anete Berzina [email protected] 010‐2150‐5978
Dararat Weerapong [email protected] 010‐2150‐9451
Katie Wagner [email protected] 010‐2150‐9447
Safietou Sall [email protected] 010‐2150‐8764

About IUCN
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries.
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Official Congress hashtag: #IUCN2012