It is a very great honor to receive the MIORI Prize, not only as the first person from Lebanon but also as a representative of the entire troubled Middle East region. The list of laureates for this prize is impressive – a wonderful collection of people, many of whom I know and all of whom I respect. It is a privilege and honor to join such a distinguished group of human beings. Thank you very much for this honor.
In 1982 I initiated efforts to co-establish the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon – SPNL. In 1993, SPNL became the first organization from Lebanon to join the IUCN. IUCN helped initiating the concept for the first three protected areas project in Lebanon. I was later hired as the first Lebanese Nature Reserve Manager at the Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, where I helped establish the reserve and train guides and guards – some of whom are still active in reserve management today – and very successfully brought it to the highest level of global recognition.
I owe amazing and unique international organizations such as IUCN and Bird Life International for the MIDORI Prize. I wish to extend my appreciation to them.
Winning The MIDORI Prize provides more exposure to our Hima revival efforts to help conserve biodiversity and empower local stakeholders and communities. It also provides a boost to our efforts in SPNL to stay the course that we have been leading for the last 30 years, to Hima and Homat Al-Hima (Young Nature Heroes) in our region, for better and more sustainable use of natural resources, as well as better engagement with the private sector and greater focus on the socioeconomic sectors.
It goes without saying that winning the MIDORI Prize will lead to changes not only in my life and family –Zeina, Adel and Sary – but many others at SPNL and throughout our region, and for that we are eternally grateful.