Ramsar honours WWF pioneers



Posted on 06 July 2012  | 
Bucharest, Romania — At today’s opening session of the 11th Conference of Parties, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as Ramsar, honoured two pioneers in the field of freshwater conservation.

Dr Luc Hoffmann received a 40th Anniversary Honorary Ramsar Award, and Mr Thymio Papayannis was given a Recognition of Achievement Award. The awards mark each man’s lifelong contribution to integrated conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

Luc Hoffmann is one of the founding fathers of the Ramsar Convention, as well as a co-founder of WWF. He also created three key wetland conservation organizations: the Tour du Valat biological station in the French Camargue, the FIBA (Fondation du Banc d’Arguin) and the MAVA Foundation.

Ramsar says Hoffmann has been one of the most significant contributors to the convention, as a founder, co-founder of supporting organizations, through his scientific and strategic contributions, and also through important financial contributions, whether directly to the convention or through other foundations and organizations or projects.

Excepting his award, Hoffman said, “We must recognise that, despite all our efforts, wetlands – like the environment in general – are still not high in the political agenda. The current crisis focuses the efforts on short-term responses, which will not deal with the root causes of environmental degradation. Let us hope that today’s ceremony will strengthen the commitment of more and more people for ensuring that wetlands remain a vital link between biodiversity and human well-being.”

Thymio Papayannis has worked on wetland conservation for 26 years – in Greece, the Mediterranean region and globally. In the early 1990s, together with Luc Hoffmann, he was instrumental in the establishment of WWF-Greece. For many years, he has advised the Ramsar Secretariat and made a major contribution to the incorporation of cultural values in the work of the convention, including coordinating the work of the Ramsar Culture Working Group. He has also served on the board of WWF International.

“Wetlands in particular fascinated me because of their diversity and the mobility of their landscapes through the presence – or at time the absence – of water, leading to unique landscapes, with an ever-present human implication and a great contribution to biodiversity”, said Papayannis.

Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International, said conservation is not for the faint of heart; it requires the commitment and perseverance demonstrated by the two pioneers.

“Dr Luc Hoffmann was instrumental in bringing about both WWF and the Ramsar Convention; he also played a major role in the early development of IUCN and the establishment of Wetlands International. Mr Thymio Papayannis, founder of WWF-Greece and leader of the Prespa Lake Conservation, has played a crucial role in the development and the success of MedWet, Ramsar’s very first Regional Initiative. We congratulate and thank them both”, said Leape.

More information on the awards can be found online at Ramsar.org.

For further information:
Gretchen Lyons +41 79 916 0136 glyons@wwfint.org

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

Mr Thymio Papayannis accepts a Recognition of Achievement Award at Ramsar COP 11 in Bucharest, Romania. July 6, 2012
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