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Dr. W.J. Wolff & Ms. Ikal Angelei win Luc Hoffmann Medal

Published on:
  • Coastal wetland conservation
  • Rivers and lakes
  • Water supply and sanitation
  • Wetland agriculture and fisheries

Wetlands International awarded the Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in Wetland Science and Conservation to two individuals on Monday. Dr. W.J. Wolff of the Netherlands won the medal in the category of Scientific Research. Ms. Ikal Angelei of Kenya won the medal in the category of Communication, Education and Public Awareness. As part of its 60 year anniversary celebration, Wetlands International awarded its highest honour at an evening reception on Monday 22 September in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The Wetlands International Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in Wetland Science and Conservation was initiated in 2004 and is awarded every triennium to honour Dr Luc Hoffmann, a pioneering champion of wetlands science and conservation, and one of the inspirational and far-sighted founders of Wetlands International. On behalf of Dr. Luc Hoffmann, his son, Andre Hoffmann presented the award through a video speech.

Prof. Dr. W.J. Wolff, retired professor in Marine biology at the University of Groningen

Prof. Dr. W.J. Wolff receives the Wetlands International Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in  Wetland Science and Conservation – Category Scientific research – for his life’s achievements in conserving the coastal wetlands of the Netherlands and adjoining countries. His extensive scientific research record, skilled diplomacy and activism saved the Oosterschelde estuary from permanent closure and his comprehensive ecological studies created the knowledge-base for the conservation and management of the Wadden Sea. While Director of Research of the Research Institute of Nature Management and Professor of Marine Biology at Groningen University where he coached 43 PhD students, Wim still found time and energy to share his knowledge and inspire wetland scientists and managers in many key wetlands overseas, including in Antarctica and West Africa. Wetlands International recognises and appreciates the enormous influence of Professor Wim Wolff and especially the conservation impact of his activism that is based on sound scientific research, his rare ability to engage, mobilise and inspire others and his legacy in terms of the enduring values of wetlands for nature and people in the Netherlands and overseas.

Ms. Ikal Angelei, Executive Director of Friends of Lake Turkana

Ms. Ikal Angelei, founder and director of ‘Friends of Lake Turkana’, receives the Wetlands International Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in Wetlands Science and Conservation – Category Communication, education and public awareness – for her crucial role in mobilising and representing the interests of hundreds of thousands of local people living around Lake Turkana, in Africa’s Rift Valley, whose survival and livelihoods depend on the Lake and are threatened by the proposed construction of the Gibe 3 Dam, which would cut off the major water source.

The dam would be the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa, and the fourth largest in the world. Ikal founded the group Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) in 2008 and in 2009, local tribes issued a “Lake Turkana People’s Declaration” and gave FoLT the mandate to communicate their grievances and needs. Ikal subsequently convinced the Kenyan Parliament to pass a resolution to demand an environmental assessment and UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to pass a resolution to halt the dam construction until further investigation. In addition, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank withdrew their considerations for financing of the dam as a direct result of her interventions. Currently, the Gibe 3 Dam is 40 percent complete but its future financing hangs in the balance.

Ikal is Executive Director of FoLT, working tirelessly to increase community participation and governance over natural resource management in the Basin. She holds a Masters in Public Policy and is currently working on her PhD in Political Ecology. Most significantly, Ikal Angelei has, as a young professional African woman, dared to stand up and challenge the current development paradigm and to promote local community rights. She has shown exceptional leadership ability and courage as well as communication skills and tenacity in convincing governments and formidable institutions to think again. In 2012 she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize (Africa). Wetlands International applauds the work of Ikal Angelei and recognises the significance of her achievements in putting a spotlight on the vital importance of sustaining wetlands for people and nature worldwide. We wish her well in her future career and endeavours. Watch her acceptance speech.

More information:

Wetlands International initiated the Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in Wetland Science and Conservation in 2004. Previous winners:

2011: Leo Zwarts

2007: Anthony Fox and Richard Kingsford

2004: Theunis Piersma