Kamal Bawa, president and founder of the Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and a distinguished professor of biology who has taught for over 40 years at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, is one of three winners of the 2014 Midori Prize in Biodiversity.
Each recipient receives $100,000 to support their work in safeguarding biodiversity, a wooden plaque and a commemorative gift.
The other two winners for 2014 are: Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, chair, Ghana National Biodiversity Committee, Ghana; and Bibiana Vilá, principal researcher, National Research Council, and director, Vicuñas, Camelids and Environment, Argentina.
The announcement was made at the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat in Montreal, Canada and at the AEON Environmental Foundation in Tokyo, Japan.
Bawa will be awarded the prize Oct. 15 when India, currently chair of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, gets ready to pass the chairmanship to South Korea at the COP-12 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The recipients will also deliver public lectures at a forum Oct. 21 at the U Thant Hall at United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan.
The Midori Prize is a biennial international prize organized by the AEON Environmental Foundation and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at global, regional or local levels.
Nominations were received from more than 60 countries this year.
Bawa was honored for contributions to research in ecology of tropical forests and climate change in the Himalayas; promoting engagement in conservation; and leadership in setting up ATREE.
Bawa said in a statement, “The prize underscores the importance of biodiversity to humanity and an inclusive and multidimensional approach to biodiversity conservation that my own research program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and ATREE in India have advocated during the past few decades.”
ATREE director Ganesan Balachander added, “Through his research in the tropics, teaching, mentoring scores of students from the global south; scientific papers exceeding a double century; and two magnificent coffee table books on the Western Ghats and the Himalaya, Dr. Bawa has woken up local and global audiences to the perils of the loss of our natural wealth and its associated cultural wealth.”
Bawa, who founded ATREE in 1996, received the prestigious Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science from the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences in 2012. His other awards include: the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Charles Bullard (twice), Maria Moor Cabot Fellowships at Harvard Forest, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment.
The Indian American says on his University of Massachusetts Web site, “I am interested in global change and biodiversity. The overarching theme is to generate knowledge about the impact of land use and land cover change, climate change and human use of natural resources on biodiversity.”
“I am particularly interested in developing new paradigms of conservation that take into account alleviation of poverty and institutions. My research on climate change in the Eastern Himalayas is focused on modeling climate change, impact of climate change on biodiversity and agriculture, and development of adaptive strategies that assign a central role to local knowledge.”