Andrew Zaloumis has been named the winner of the WWF SA Living Planet 2015 Award for his dedicated role in conservation and sustainable development.
The honour was bestowed on the CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa Living Planet Conference 2015.
Accepting the award at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg, Zaloumis credited the extraordinary World Heritage Site where he works as allowing him to bring together his deep-seated passion for human rights-based development and conservation.
“I would like to thank the WWF for this award. I would like to acknowledge my former “boss” Valli Moosa who was there at the start, and thank all the people who have inspired me and worked alongside me to make this a reality. Also, a special thank you to my family, especially my father, who inspired my love for iSimangaliso. This has been, and is, a team effort,” said Zaloumis.
Under Zaloumis’ leadership, the 322 000 hectare iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which includes eight percent of South Africa’s coastline, was proclaimed and listed as South Africa’s first UNESCO World
Heritage site in 1999. His work has resulted in the economic turnaround of the Park with meaningful empowerment and benefits to local communities and more sustainable conservation practices.
“The WWF SA Living Planet 2015 Award is our premier award and Andrew is an immensely deserving winner,” commented Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa.
Addressing the importance of the award, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, explained that recipients can be catalysts beyond even their own expectations – which is the purpose of recognising their efforts. “WWF believes that it is these ambitious, co-operative and inspirational actions which, when aggregated together, can halt the destruction of the natural world and build a future where people live in harmony with nature,” he said.