The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Celebrates Awards Recipients for Their Extraordinary Efforts Dedicated to Preserve Planet Earth
Today in the Principality of Monaco, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation held its illustrious second annual awards ceremony at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco. HSH Prince Albert recognized three leading international figures, including Boston’s Professor Edward Osborne Wilson, for their lifelong efforts to preserve the planet, specific to his eponymous Foundation’s three focus areas: climate change, biodiversity and water.
Professor Wilson was honored for his lifelong contribution to protecting the world’s biodiversity. During his acceptance of the award which consists of a specially designed trophy and 40,000 euros, he said we have only just begun to explore Earth’s biodiversity. “The 21st century, I believe, is going to be known as the Century of the Environment, and in science as the Century of Biology. This is the time that we will either settle down as a species or completely wreck the planet.
“There has been proportionately much less attention on the living environment, and especially the diversity of life, biodiversity, defined as the totality of ecosystems, the species that compose them, and the genes that prescribe the traits of the species that compose each of the ecosystems in turn,” he said.
“That great resource has taken billions of years to evolve. Our lives depend on it, because we are first and above all things a biological species living in a biological world. Our best estimates are that about 1.8 million species are now known to science. But the search for unknown species has just begun. When all of the small invertebrates of the sea and land are fully explored the number could easily exceed 20 million species. The truth is that we live on a little known planet.”
A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Wilson is world-renowned for his career as a scientist and advocacy for environmentalism. He is Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University and is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.
His most ambitious - and current - undertaking, which he both conceived and named, is the “Encyclopedia of Life” (www.eol.org), a web-based program indexing every species known to man.
“The project, recently launched by a consortium including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, The Field Museum of Chicago, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility in Copenhagen, and the Marine Biological Laboratory, is an electronic encyclopedia that will have an indefinitely expandable page for each and every species of animal, plant and microorganism,“ said Professor Wilson.
“Each species will be illustrated with multiple views or parts of the genome of the type specimen or other authenticated specimen, and a diagnosis; and into the page will go everything known about the species, with new information added as it is acquired. The Encyclopedia of Life is now underway with up to $50 million pledged by the MacArthur and Sloan Foundations,” he said.
Marina Silva of Brazil was presented with the Foundation’s award for her work in support of the Brazilian rainforests. Ms Silva is a Brazilian environmentalist and politician, who served as a senator before becoming an environmental minister in 2003. She led demonstrations with Chico Mendes to warn against deforestation and the removal of forest communities from traditional locations. As a native Amazonian and a senator, she built support for the environmental protection of the reserves as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the region. During her time as Senator, deforestation decreased by 59% from 2004 to 2007.
Pan Yue of China was honored for his contribution to water conservation. With a strong background in journalism and government administration, he is currently Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. He has tackled some of China’s biggest industries over pollution, forcing them to clean up and believes that access to clean water is the most urgent environmental problem because it is the bloodline for industrialization, urbanization and survival. In 2008 the Foundation’s award recipients were Arctic explorer Alain Hubert, primatologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall and Indian environmentalist and political activist Sunita Narain.
The awards ceremony, attended by 1500 guests, was preceded by the world premiere of the much-anticipated film, OCEANS, from Academy Award-nominated producer Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. A true technological and scientific adventure, OCEANS from DisneyNature is the breathtaking result of three years of filming under the deep seas around the globe. The film is not only a moving account of the wonders of nature but also an alarming report on the dangers that threaten it. The film will première in the United States on Earth Day, April 22, 2010.