UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Laureates


© Fabio A. Kalesnik, Horacio Sirolli and Luciano Iribarren

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, has named Fabio A. Kalesnik, Horacio Sirolli and Luciano Iribarren of the Wetlands Ecology Research Group of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the laureates of this year’s UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation for their outstanding achievements in support of environmental preservation.


Mr Adam Wasiak, Director-General of the State Forests National Forest Holding; Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; H.E. Dr. Madiha Al Shaibani, Minister of Education, Sultanate of Oman; Harriet Davies-Mostert, Head of Conservation Science Endangered Wildlife Trust.

The State Forests National Forest Holding of Poland and South Africa’s Endangered Wildlife Trust were recognized during the opening of the World Science Forum on 24 November in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation.

The State Forests National Forest Holding of Poland manages more than 75 per cent of the country’s forests. The holding plays a major role in ensuring the sustainable management of forests while raising public awareness of environmental concerns and the need for ecological conservation. Most of the forests situated in Poland’s ten biosphere reserves are managed by the holding.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust of South Africa develops and implements innovative environmental protection projects. In close cooperation with local communities, the trust works for the preservation of ecosystems and endangered species through research, environmental education, training and awareness-raising.


The Nigerian Institute for Forest Research was awarded for their pioneering work in forest management and preservation in the country.


The Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN), which operates under the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Areas was awarded for being a model for biosphere reserve management. It works to conserve Spain’s natural heritage through efforts to save endangered species and their habitats, eliminate non-native species, restore degraded areas and monitor air and water quality, in addition to supporting environmental education and training. OAPN has also helped countries in Ibero-America and the Caribbean, Northwest Africa and South-East Asia to identify and fund subregional strategies for protecting biodiversity in biosphere reserves through South–South cooperation, technology transfer and training.

OAPN received the Prize diploma and a US$30,000 prize cheque from the Director-General of UNESCO and H.E. Yahya Ben Saud Al Sulaimi, Minister of Education, Oman, on 5 November 2009 at the World Science Forum, Budapest (Hungary).

OAPN  dedicate the Prize funds of US$30,000 to a biosphere school called "Escuela de la Biosfera de Eticoga", located in the Bijagos Biosphere Reserve (Guinea Bissau). It will be the first school receiving funding within a new OAPN project on environmental education to create five schools for the biosphere in Africa, Iberoamerica and the Caribbean. The objective of this initiative is to promote the environmental education of young children and populations living in Biosphere Reserve in the framework of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.


The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, awarded the 2007 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation jointly to the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (Ethiopia) and to Dr Julius Oszlányi (Slovakia), in accordance with the recommendations of the Bureau of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, which met in Paris 18 to 20 September.


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Australia) and to Dr Ernesto C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich (Mexico)


The 2005 Sultan Qaboos Prize was delivered to the winners during the World Science Forum, Budapest, 10 November 2005.


Centro de Ecología, Venezuela and Mr Peter Johan Schei, Norway

The Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, decided at its meeting on 8 July 2003 to award the 2003 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation jointly to the Centre for Ecology (Centro de Ecología) in Venezuela and to the Norwegian biodiversity specialist Peter Johan Schei, nominated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The Centre for Ecology is a unit of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). For decades it has not only generated a wealth of scientific knowledge in the field of tropical ecology but it has systematically and successfully disseminated this knowledge to professionals and the general public through education, training and awareness raising.

The selection of Mr. Schei is an appreciation of his extraordinary contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. Furthermore, the Prize acknowledges Mr Schei's role as facilitator in the dialogue between developed and developing countries in the international environmental arena, especially in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

A Prize ceremony was organized in Budapest in conjunction with the World Science Day on 10 November 2003 during which a series of different UNESCO Science Prizes were awarded, including the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation.


Association Tchadienne des Volontaires pour la Protection de l'Environnement - (A.T.V.P.E.)

The Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, as the Jury of the Prize, has decided to award the 2001 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation to the "Chad Association of Volunteers for the Protection of the Environment". Since 1997, the Chad Association of Volunteers for the Protection of the Environment (A.T.V.P.E.) has carried out many significant and highly successful activities in the different regions of Chad, especially in reforestation and soil conservation. Within five years, i.e. 1997 - 2001, the Association has planted almost 20,000 trees across the country and has produced and distributed 70,000 seedlings to the local population. Traditional technologies are used in combating desertification and in minimizing the effects of drought.

The achievements of this NGO can be attributed to its capacity to mobilize a large number of volunteers and members of the public, particularly women's groups and young people, who are very committed to this work. The A.T.V.P.E. undertakes highly appreciated environmental education, training, and public-awareness campaigns about the importance of environment and sustainable development. For these efforts, the Association won the first prize for 'best practices' in environmental preservation awarded by UNDP and UNSO (Office to Combat Desertification and Drought) in 1998. The MAB Bureau has decided to award the 2001 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation to the "Chad Association of Volunteers for the Protection of the Environment" in recognition of its remarkable contribution to the implementation of the concept of biosphere reserves in terms of promoting the importance of linking nature conservation and sustainable development.

This decision was also taken to encourage the efforts of the Association in its contribution to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity, especially in the Sahelian Region.


Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands

The Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, as the Jury of the Prize, decided to award the 1999 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation to the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador).

The volcanic Galapagos Islands archipelago is situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 kilometres off the Ecuadorian coast. Due to their isolation, the Galapagos Islands host some of the most unspoiled ecosystems in the world and are known internationally for their beauty and unique wildlife. Because of its uniqueness and high value, the Galapagos Islands are included on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and inscribed on the World Heritage list.

Named after the British naturalist famous for his theory of evolution partly inspired by his expeditions to the Galapagos Islands aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in 1835, the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands is an international, non-profit, non-governmental, scientific organization. Created in 1959, under the auspices of UNESCO and IUCN, the Charles Darwin Foundation is dedicated to the protection of the Galapagos Islands through scientific research, training, education and advice to the Ecuadorian Government. The Charles Darwin Foundation has successfully built up a staff of over 100 scientists, educators, volunteers, research students, logistics personnel and administrators at its Research Station who address a number of key issues concerning the Galapagos environment and its 15,000 strong population. The Research Station team work side by side with the Galapagos National Park Service and together they are tackling critical issues, such as the risks and impacts of alien species, intensive fishing and the effects of increases in both tourism and resident population.

The MAB Bureau rewarded the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands with the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation for its outstanding contributions to the conservation and better understanding of the unique Galapagos Island environment, and as a recognition of the challenges that lie ahead. Click here to view the photo of the Award-giving Ceremony during the 30th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, November 1999 with H. Exc. Mr. Juan Cueva, Ambassador of Ecuador to UNESCO, Mr. F. Mayor, Former Director-General of UNESCO and H. H. Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman.


Department of Environmental Sciences of Egypt and Forest Department of Sri Lanka

The Bureau as the Jury of the Prize decided to award the Sultan Qaboos Prize jointly to:

  • the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Alexandria (Egypt) for its work notably within the Omayed Biosphere Reserve; and
  • the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, Dr. C.V. Savitri Gunatilleke, Dr. I.A.U. Nimal Gunatilleke, Dr. Peter S. Ashton, and Dr. P. Mark Ashton for their activities in forest conservation, sustainable management of natural forests, and the establishment and management of commercial plantations in connections with the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site.


Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park, which was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1984, is situated at the southern end of the immense Lake Malawi. Set in a beautiful backdrop of mountains, Lake Malawi has clear and deep waters with hundreds of mostly endemic fish species. The MAB Bureau decided to allocate the 1995 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation to the Lake Malawi National Park based on its ambitious management programme largely carried-out in cooperation with local communities. Through the management programme, the Lake Malawi National Park not only contributes to the protection of the rich biodiversity in the area, it also promotes the welfare of all the people who live there.  


Professor Jan Jeník, The Czeck Republic

Mr. Jan Jeník is a botanist who is currently Professor at the Institute of Botany at Charles University in Prague. His career is marked by his professional competence, dedication and personal integrity which have given him intentional renown and respect.

After starting his studies in botany and forestry in Prague, Jan Jeník was given special leave in 1964 to 1967 to lecture and undertake botanical research in Africa. It was this experience in Ghana, Togo, Tanzania and many other countries of Africa which stimulated his interest in tropical ecosystems and which he was able to communicate so successfully to his colleagues and students thereafter. In 1970 he had to leave Prague for political reasons and continued his work in the south of the country in the region of Trebon. It was here that he started his long association with the Man and Biosphere programme. In 1976, the Trebon Biosphere Reserve was officially designated and heralded a new type of protected area characterised by its emphasis on human-made landscapes and sustainable use of natural resources. Jan Jeník participated actively in MAB activities on wetland ecology, mountain systems, links between ecology and economics and the development of the international biosphere reserve network. In 1990, following the political changes in the former Czechoslovakia, Jan Jeník was invited to return to the Charles University in Prague as head of the Department of Botany and became Member of the Co-ordinating Council of the Academy of Sciences. His enthousiasm to share and communicate knowledge enlarged his purely scientific work with a multitude of activities for popularising ecology and the conservation of nature, always paying special attention to the need to provide well-written material in local languages. In sum, the cause of ecology throughout the world, and not the least UNESCO's MAB programme, owe a great deal to Jan Jeník. 


The Instituto de Ecología A.C. of Mexico

This Institute, created in 1975, has made very important contributions to scientific research and training in the field of natural resources. It has furthered progress in the ecological sciences and the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources not only in Mexico but also at the regional and interregional levels. The quality of the Institute's research is reflected in the many national and international distinctions it has received. The Institute has been particularly active in the promotion and practical application of the biosphere reserve concept of the MAB Programme, which seeks to link reconcile conservation with development. The "Mexican model" of biosphere reserves has been emulated in many countries.

The numerous publications produced by the Instituto de Ecología A.C. and widely distributed throughout the research networks of the MAB Programme, represent a very valuable contribution to modern ecology and reflect the Institute's strong commitment to international co-operation.

Mr. Mayor, the Director-General of UNESCO, presented the 1991 Sultan Qaboos Prize to the Director-General of the Instituto de Ecología, Professor Gonzalo Halffter Salas

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