Every year The Perfect World Foundation awards a significant person who has contributed to the conservation of our natural world. This person has also, maybe most importantly, contributed to increase global awareness about the importance of protecting our planet and its wildlife, to ensure a sustainable future for all its inhabitants.
Awarded conservationists: Prince Albert II of Monaco (2020), Greta Thunberg (2019), David Attenborough (2018), Sylvia Earle (2017), Richard Leakey (2016), Jane Goodall (2015) and Mark Shand (2014).
The crystal award statuette 'The fragile Rhino' is uniquely designed and made by Orrefors Kosta Boda, the renown and historic Swedish glassblowing and glass design company.
2019 GRETA THUNBERG | 2018 DAVID ATTENBOROUGH | 2017 SYLVIA EARLE | 2016 RICHARD LEAKEY | 2015 JANE GOODALL | 2014 MARK SHAND
“Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn't matter what we do, but I've learnt that you are never to small to make a difference.” – Greta Thunberg
Miss Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist, and the youngest The Perfect World Award recipient to date. She sparked an international movement to fight climate change beginning in 2018, with the simple message ‘School strike for climate’ handwritten on poster board, Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays and protesting outside the Swedish Parliament. Through social media, her actions have spread and influenced millions of young people all over the world to organize and protest.
Launching ‘Fridays For Future’, Thunberg and other concerned youths throughout the world have continued to pressure leaders and lawmakers to act on climate change through their regular walkouts. Thunberg has also travelled the world, meeting with global leaders and speaking at assemblies to demand climate solutions and a recommitment to the Paris Agreement. As the face of the climate youth movement, Thunberg has also been invited to speak at numerous climate events all over the world. In December 2018, her emotional speech at the United Nations COP24 in Katowice, Poland, went viral.
Thunberg’s message is direct – listen to the scientists – and her actions and movement has shown that the young generation are committed to rise up and demand a sustainable future for the planet, humanity and wildlife.
Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in March 2019, and a few months later she became the youngest individual ever to be honoured as Time's ‘Person of the Year’.
“The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.” – David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough knew early on what his calling was in life, and it has been reported that as a child he collected fossils and eggshells from birds and documented them systematically. Naturally, he also chose to study science, geology and zoology at the University of Cambridge.
After his studies he was recruited by the BBC (UK’s public service broadcaster) in the 1950s, with the task of creating TV programmes. Using modern film technology coupled with his dedication, he created a completely new standard for nature and wildlife documentaries. Under his leadership, animals were always filmed and studied in their natural habitat, at a respectful distance. Through his innovative documentaries, Attenborough brought the natural world into the homes of the TV viewers. He didn’t only write, produce and film the documentaries, he also guided the viewers by narrating the episodes with his distinctive voice.
Attenborough is probably the one person who has brought us the most knowledge about our planet’s natural world. All from his television series ‘Life on Earth’, which premiered in 1979, and is estimated to been seen by 500 million people, to his documentary series ‘Our Planet’, released in 2019, in which we get to experience our planet's natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures. And in 2020, with his documentary film ‘A life on our Planet’ Attenborough tells us how we need to work with nature, rather than against it… to save it.
Dr Sylvia Earle
“Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.” – Sylvia Earle
Dr Sylvia Earle’s bottomless passion for exploring, understanding and protecting the ocean and its inhabitants started when she was just a 12-year-old girl moving to the west coast of Florida, with her family. This was her first encounter with the sea, and the beginning of a lifelong love story.
Earle, one of our times most prominent oceanographers and marine biologists, has over seven decades discovered and explored the ocean. She was one of the first to dive with SCUBA equipment, she has lived underwater in over 10 research projects, helped develop underwater robots, tried more than 30 different types of underwater vehicles and even, wearing the underwater suit JIM, walked on the seabed at 380 meters deep.
With her presence in the field she has paved way for women in science, and she has always had the courage to stand for what she knows, because at heart Earle is foremost a scientist. In 1990, she was appointed Chief scientist of the US Administration, NOAA, a prestigious role that didn’t leave much room for a passionate and outspoken researcher. In order to not be limited in her mission to protect and preserve our planet’s oceans, nor to compromise on her freedom to express herself, based on what she knew as a scientist, Earle resigned two years later.
Today, Earle works with her own foundation to increase interest and knowledge of how we can all protect and respect our oceans. She turns knowledge into hope through her work with marine national parks, that she calls Hope Spots, which provides proof that the ocean can recover and that we can create balance in our relationship with nature.
Dr Richard Leakey
“We will burn ivory and we hope every country in the globe will support Kenya and say never again should we trade ivory.” – Richard Leakey
Dr Richard Leakey is probably the one person who has done the most for the conservation of the African elephant, turning the escalating extinction of the species to a rise of the African elephant population.
Leakey is a Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist, and political figure, who was responsible for extensive fossil finds related to human evolution and who campaigned publicly for responsible management of the environment in East Africa.
1968–1989 Leakey was director of the National Museums of Kenya, and was in 1989 made director of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Department (the precursor to KWS – the Kenya Wildlife Service). Devoted to the preservation of Kenya’s wildlife and sanctuaries, Leakey embarked on a campaign to reduce corruption within the KWS, crack down on ivory poachers, and restore the security of Kenya’s national parks. In doing so he made numerous enemies. In 1993 he survived a plane crash in which he lost both his legs below the knee. It has never been proven that the plane was sabotaged (but Leakey has no doubts).
In Leakey’s war against the ivory poachers he was ruthless and brilliantly successful. He raised a 100 million pounds overseas and instructed his rangers to start shooting poachers instead of tracking them. 2016, in Nairobi, Kenya, Leakey torched millions of pounds' worth of stockpiled ivory – the largest ivory burn in history – and lobbied successfully for a world trade ban. For the first time in over a century, African elephant numbers began to rise.
Dr Jane Goodall
“We are part of the animal kingdom, not separated from it, we could have a blood transfusion from a chimp if it matched the blood group, we really could, and the other way around too.” – Jane Goodall
Dr Jane Goodall is one of the best known scientific researchers and conservationists in the world, and she became famous in 1960s for her ground breaking studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. At this time, 26-year-old Goodall was a novice and specifically hired by famed paleoanthropologist and archaeologist Louis Leakey who’d been looking for a mind unbiased by scientific theory.
Goodall’s work in Tanzania made her a pioneer in the field and her observations in the 1960s – revealing that chimpanzees eat meat, make and use tools, express emotions, have a sense of humour and laugh, have personalities, and have communication signals like kissing, embracing, holding hands, patting on the back, shaking the fist, all of them done in the same context as we do them – transformed the world’s understanding of humankind’s closest relative.
Through her studies, Goodall realized that the animals and nature needed to be protected. So in 1977, Goodall stared shifting her time from science to activism, and dedicated her mission to environmental education, wildlife conservation and saving the declining primate population from extinction. Today, almost six decades after entering Gombe National Park, she considers her work more important than ever as poaching, wild animal trade and loss of habitat due to human activities are still threatening the endangered primates to expiation.
Mr Mark Shand
“I always say that basically elephants are a lot more intelligent than human beings… they are quiet, they are superior, they are wise. Without them we are pretty well lose, we lose them, we lose the forest, we lose everything.” – Mark Shand
Mr Mark Shand said his life changed in 1988 when he on his travels in India fell in love with a beautiful female Asian elephant named Tara. It was though Tara he learnt that the Asian elephant could be teetering on the brink of extinction. The human-elephant conflict across India was out of control, and the increasing pressure of human population was destroying the forest of the Asian elephant. To survive, starving herds had no choice than to raid crops, causing damage, destruction and death. This realisation was why Shand in 2002 co-founded the wildlife foundation ‘Elephant Family’, to make sure that he could do something about the human-elephant conflict and readdress the balance. Shand dedicated the last 27 years of his life to saving the Asian elephant, and made it his life’s purpose to bring this forgotten animal to our attention and became their greatest guardian.
Shand was a British travel writer and wildlife conservationist, known for his nature documentary ‘Nature’ (1982), ‘Expedition India’ (2000) and ‘In the Wild’ (1992). He published his first travel book ‘Skulduggery’ in 1987, based on an expedition to Irian Jaya in Indonesia, followed by ‘Travels on My Elephant’ in 1992, ‘Queen of the Elephants’ in 1996 (awarded the Prix Litteraire d'Amis award) and ‘River Dog: A Journey Down the Brahmaputra’ in 2003.
‘Travels on My Elephant’ tells the story of Shand’s travels trough India with his elephant Tara. The book became a bestseller and won the ‘Travel Writer of the Year Award’ at the British Book Awards in 1992.
In 2014, Mark Shand was nominated to be the first recipient of The Perfect World Foundation Award as ‘Conservationist of the Year’. To all our grief Shand unexpectedly past away by a freak accident weeks before the award ceremony and the award was accepted on his behalf by his sister Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and his brother-in-law Price Charles, royal presidents of Elephant family, accompanied by Ruth Ganesh, Principal Trustee, and her sister Mary Powys.
Mark Shand was a tremendous inspiration to The Perfect World Foundation, and will always remain so in the future.
View more pictures on flickr
The Perfect World Magazine is a glossy cover, coffee table magazine full of inspiring stories about animals, people, our work and positive change. By purchasing our magazine you not only get hours of good reading, you are also supporting our work. Thank you for your support!
You can buy the English issue No.2 HERE or the Swedish issue No.1 HERE