I am truly honoured and humbled to be one of three recipients of the coveted Midori Prize for Biodiversity for 2018. The Midori Prize honours individuals who have made outstanding contributions to conservation and sustainable use at local and global levels, and who have influenced and strengthened various biodiversity-related efforts, as well as raised awareness about biodiversity.
My involvement with biodiversity has been a life-long preoccupation. Born in Malaysia, one of the 17th mega-diverse countries in the world, appreciation of nature and biodiversity comes naturally. The sound of birds in the morning, the soft rustling of the leaves blown by the wind and the freshness of the air are all too familiar to me since I was young. It was only later in life that I discovered that I was living in one of the greatest biology laboratories on the surface of the planet – Southeast Asia – the natural work setting of fabled British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace who conceived with Charles Darwin the theory of evolution by natural selection in 1858.
Thrust into the international arena as a member of the Malaysian delegation in the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (1990-92), I subscribe fully to the three objectives of the CBD, namely conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources. I believe, sustainable development, and the future of human civilisation hinges heavily on biodiversity – our web of life.