One Crore Gift for Sustainability Work in India

Boston, May 9, 2012
Prof Kamal Bawa of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, winner of the Gunnerus Sustainability Award from Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS) has donated the entire prize money of 1 million Norwegian Kronor (about INR 10000000) to the Bangalore based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), the organization that he helped found in 1996.

The Gunnerus Sustainability Award is given for outstanding scientific work that promotes sustainable development globally, and the first award was given to Prof Bawa for his work on biodiversity in Central America, the Western Ghats and the Himalayas. At the acceptance ceremony Dr Bawa said it was unfortunate that almost all money in international assistance goes to projects rather than to strengthening institutions. Standing by his belief that “It is institutions that transform societies,” Dr Bawa donated the award money to ATREE.

“The gift is a fine example of philanthropy at its best. It also endorses Bawa’s commitment to a better world, and to ATREE,” said Ms Pheroza Godrej, a member of the governing board of ATREE.

Dr Gladwin Joseph, Director ATREE said, “The gift will help ATREE address important environmental challenges.” ATREE was recently ranked # 19 globally, and #1 in Asia among environmental think tanks.

The Gunnerus Sustainability Award is the world’s first major international award for outstanding scientific work that promotes sustainable development globally, and will be awarded every two years, starting 2012. The award is named after DKNVS’ founder, Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus (1718-1773). Norway as a country is associated with the term ‘sustainability’ from Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtlands's report to the UN. Now its environmental capital of Trondheim has established the world's first major award in the globally important new research area of sustainability. It should also be noted that the award will be given at the 25th anniversary of the Brundtland report, and may be regarded as a celebration of that event.
According to Professor Kristian Fossheim, President of DKNVS, “DKNVS aims to make this a global prize of quality and importance, worthy comparison to the Nobel Prizes in science”.

Professor Kamal Bawa is Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and founder and President of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). He was recently elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to public discourse and public policy surrounding sustainability.

ATREE is a research institution in the areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development which focuses on applied science through research, education and action that influence policy and practice on conservation of nature, management of natural resources, and sustainable development. Its mission is to promote socially just environmental conservation and sustainable development by generating rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge that engages actively with academia, policy makers, practitioners, activists, students and wider public audiences. ATREE was recently (January 2012) ranked 19th in the University of Pennsylvania listing of the top think tanks in the world in the area of environment, and implicitly, the first in Asia.

For more information, contact Meetu Desai, Director, Communications, ATREE at +919902962935;