The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity 2012
- Vo Quy
- Viet Nam
Honorary President, Center for Natural Resources Management and Environmental Studies (CRES), Vietnam National University, Hanoi
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the MIDORI Prize Committee of Judges for selecting me as a recipient of the MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity 2012. It is not only a great honor for me, but also a great honor for my country, Vietnamese scientists and our people. I would like to share this honor with my colleagues, friends from many countries, who for many years, supported my work on conservation of biodiversity in my country.
As we know, we all depend on biodiversity to survive. But today, species loss is accelerating as our population growth and resource consumption put increasing strain on habitats and wildlife. The question is whether we can successfully find a way to survive and develop within the limits of our natural capital.
This is time for action now. Delay will only increase the seriousness of the problem we need to resolve. We must especially strive to avoid great losses of biodiversity, the living parts of the ecosystems that provide the foundation of most country's economies, and from the base upon which the majority of the population of the developing countries derive their livelihoods. Biodiversity loss and rapid climate change could lead to a disastrous ecological collapse and social breakdown.
There is no single solution that will solve the problem. Every member of the global community has a role to play: some doing big things, some doing small; but each contributing to the whole. I think we should all cooperate to solve this problem, otherwise all of us will suffer, because we all share one planet – the Earth.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.
Reasons for Awarding the Prize
War is often said to be one of the main drivers of environmental degradation. The Vietnam War is one such war of which the country still bears the scars. Dr. Vo Quy devised an ambitious master plan for rehabilitating 50% of the country's forests from severe environmental devastation. This plan, underpinned by his scientific expertise, was adopted by the government as the National Conservation Strategy, and he has steadily implemented the plan. He has also contributed to heightened public awareness and capacity building by making efforts to foster young researchers and community involvement. His work to regenerate the forests seriously devastated by adverse effects of Agent Orange is a living testimony to one man's commitment to using science to work with communities to rehabilitate the degraded environments around them, restore habitats and increase biodiversity. His achievements are influential at national and regional levels and a model to other developing nations of the conservation and rehabilitation of nature, offering hope that lands devastated by urbanization or warfare can be regenerated. War and its impacts aside, forest degradation and increased biodiversity loss is a challenge faced by communities worldwide and the example led by his lifework could potentially contribute to forest regeneration and biodiversity conservation activities beyond the borders of Viet Nam.
Dr. Vo Quy (b.1929) studied biology at the Vietnam teacher-training institute, and in 1956, he began teaching at the University of Hanoi (zoology). In the early 1960s, he studied at Moscow University and earned his Ph. D. in ornithology. He subsequently returned to the University of Hanoi and became a zoology professor. He remains a professor at that university to this day.
In 1971 and in 1974, during the war against the United States, Dr. Quy and other researchers ventured into many engagement zones and found that broad range of dense tropical forests and agricultural lands were seriously devastated due to the adverse effects of the agent orange. Since this time, he has strongly recognized the importance of the reforestation and greening of Viet Nam. From 1971 to 1985, he served as the leader of the working group for the Research on the Long-Term Effect of Herbicides Used in the War on the Environment and on Living Resources in South Viet Nam. From 1981 to 1990, he served as the vice-chair and then Chair of the National Research Program on the Conservation of nature and rational utilization of natural resources.
In 1985, Dr. Vo Quy founded Vietnam's first environmental research and training institute, the Center for Natural Resources Management and Environmental Studies (CRES), at the University of Hanoi (now Vietnam National University, Hanoi). It was here that he devised a master plan with his colleagues for rehabilitating 50% of the country's forests. This plan was adopted by the government as the National Conservation Strategy. In 1989, he authored the first draft of the Law on Environmental Protection for Vietnam as the leader of a team of scientists and contributed in various ways to national policies for environmental protection. The young CRES scientists have insisted the necessities of the management of nature reserves. They have cooperated with the villagers to implement conservation projects and environmental policies through providing guidelines for nature conservation.
In the wildlife conservation field, Dr. Quy spotted an extremely rare eastern sarus crane, a species believed to be decimated by the war, and endeavored to establish a treaty for the protection of migratory birds in the Indochina peninsula. By 1988, more than 1000 cranes were observed returning to the reserve that was established. Dr. Quy has also worked as a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) since 1986, helping to enlarge protected areas and national parks, protect endangered species, and sustainable use of wildlife. He has been working closely with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), UNEP and MAB/UNESCO for many years.
Dr. Quy, who took the initiative to involve rural communities as the main proponents of the country's nature conservation and reforestation program, is rightly called the father of Vietnam's environmental conservation movement. His efforts and successes in conserving and restoring the damaged natural environment in Vietnam make him an excellent role model for other developing nations with similar environmental conditions.
* This profile was prepared in 2012.
Record of Honor and Awards
- WWF- Gold Medal Hong Kong
- UNEP Global 500 Rio de Janeiro
- IUCN John Philips Memorial Medal Buenos Aires
Bruno H. Schubert Foundation Environmental Prize (Category I, Frankfurt, Germany)
- PEW Scholars Award (University of Michigan, USA)
- Royal Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark
- Blue Planet Prize (The Asahi Glass Foundation, Japan)
- "Heroes of the Environment" (Time Magazine)