Last night, at a ceremony held in Frankfurt, Germany, KfW Stiftung honoured environmentalist, Andrew Zaloumis, for his outstanding commitment to conservation and visionary management as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Zaloumis, who was nominated by UNESCO for the award, received the KfW-Bernhard-Grzimek-Preis for his ground-breaking work in people-centred conservation in one of South Africa's poorest regions.
The laudatory speech was given by Dr Fanny Douvere, coordinator of the UNESCO Marine Programme in Paris."In taking World Heritage conservation to a whole new level, Andrew Zaloumis has given hope to and inspired both the youth of iSimangaliso and his World Heritage peers around the world," Douvere comments.
"Marking the 30th anniversary of Bernhard Grzimek's death, we are particularlypleased to honour Andrew Zaloumis whose personal commitment to a region, which is one of the richest in terms of biodiversity but at the same time one of the most endangered in Africa, is truly in the spirit of the man who has lent his name to the biodiversity award of KfW Stiftung. Andrew Zaloumis' approach to restoration of major ecosystems and its wildlife and sustainable management of natural resources is forward-looking and blazes a trail for many similar areas," points out Dr Lutz-Christian Funke from the Board of KfW Stiftung.
Zaloumis first became involved in the iSimangaliso region as a human rights activist during apartheid. During this time he worked with communities in the northern section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. He went on to follow in the footsteps of his father, the late Dr Nolly Zaloumis, who was fundamental to the Save St Lucia campaign.
The awards ceremony was preceded by apanel discussion led by renowned professionals from science, environment protection and business and explored the topic, "The invisible crisis - our plastic waste in the world's seas".
Local students from six technical secondary schools with a teaching emphasis on mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology (MINT) also took part in an afternoon discussion with Zaloumis and scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt. The teenagers - interested in learning more about the connections between Western lifestyle, its impact on the global environment and local nature conservation - discussed these issues with Zaloumis, who is responsible in iSimangaliso for more than 200kms of coastline, giving special attention to the problem of plastic waste and its harmful effects on the world's oceans.