Assad Serhal the Director General of SPNL (Birdlife Lebanon) Wins Midori Prize 2018 in Biodiversity

Assad Serhal, the Director General of Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon – SPNL (Birdlife Lebanon), was named among the winners of the 2018 MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity.

The full list of winners of the 2018 MIDORI Prize are:

Dr. Kathy MacKinnon (U.K.)
Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas

Mr. Assad Serhal (Lebanon)
Director General, Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon

Dr. Abdul Hamid Zakri (Malaysia)
Former Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Each of the prize winners is awarded a commemorative gift and plaque and a monetary prize of 100,000 US dollars to support their work. They will be honored at an Award Ceremony to be held on 31 October 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Public lectures will be delivered by the prize winners at a Winners’ Forum on the same day. The three prize winners will be featured in a video and exhibition at the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity which will be held from 17 to 29 November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The biennial international prize, organized by the AEON Environmental Foundation and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at global, regional or local levels.

Winner’s Work and Achievements

Early in his career, Mr. Serhal realized that North American or Western European models for nature conservation and management did not resonate with local communities in the Middle East. He devised a program for preserving nature that was consistent with and even reinforced, local cultures and values.

Mr. Serhal helped revive the Hima, an ancient Middle Eastern model of community-based conservation. He reached back into the deep past for an answer to the conservation challenges of the future.

The Middle East is one of the most important, yet threatened, flyways for migratory birds; Lebanon is a small country with an amazing diversity of habitats. Mr. Serhal felt it was his mission to protect these jewels of natural heritage.

COP 18 session was moderated by SPNL director general Assad Serhal, a Birdlife special envoy to the GCC countries.

The Hima is as much about human empowerment and local culture as it is about nature conservation. Mr. Serhal proved that the two must progress together.

Locally, regionally, and globally, the Hima Revival has gained traction far beyond Lebanon and the Middle East, and is now seen as a model for conservation at the international level.

Mr. Serhal completed his university studies and returned to a Lebanon engulfed in civil war determined to care for its irreplaceable natural heritage. He has shown that even under the most trying situations nature and human dignity can flourish. His commitment to conservation and to people is a source of inspiration for all.

Mike Evans (BirdLife) and Assad Serhal (SPNL General Director) launching the Important Bird Areas in the Middle Eastin 1994
Mike Evans (BirdLife) and Assad Serhal (SPNL General Director) launching the Important Bird Areas in the Middle Eastin 1994

Serhal’s Record of Awards

– UN-Habitat Best Practice Award (2013) in recognition of work done at the Qolieleh marine Hima conservation site

– BirdLife International (2013): elected as a member of BirdLife’s governing Global Council

– BirdLife International (2013): SPNL awarded BirdLife International Partnership Award for its work in reviving the Hima and for promoting responsible hunting

– United Nations Women’s Fund for Gender Equality (2014): Recognized the Al-Hima System as a model for women’s empowerment, at the First Arab States Regional South-South Development Expo

– IUCN Congress: adoption of Motion 122, for promoting and supporting community based resource management and conservation (including Al Hima), during its 5th World Conservation Congress in Jeju- South Korea during September 2012, which was co-presented by SPNL and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water in Austria.

The MIDORI Prize

The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity is awarded every two years, coinciding with the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Prize was established by the AEON Environmental Foundation in 2010 to commemorate the International Year of Biodiversity, the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD held in Nagoya, Japan, and the Foundation’s 20th anniversary.

The MIDORI Prize 2018 will be awarded to three individuals who will each be honoured at an award ceremony held in Tokyo, in October 2018 prior to the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties,

Previous Winners of the Midori Prize include (alphabetical order, honorifics omitted): Alfonso Aguirre-Muñoz (Mexico), Kamal Bawa (India), Juan Carlos Castilla (Chile), Gretchen Daily (USA), Yury Darman (Russia), Rodrigo Gámez-Lobo (Costa Rica), Jean Lemire (Canada), Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana), Vo Quy (Vietnam), Emil Salim (Indonesia), Vandana Shiva (India), Bibiana Vilá (Argentina).

Further information on the MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity is available on the website:

The AEON Environmental Foundation

The AEON Environmental Foundation was established in 1990 based on principles of pursuing peace, respecting humanity, and contributing to local communities. Since its establishment, the Foundation has made diverse efforts supporting environmental NGOs and NPOs, undertaking tree planting in Japan and abroad, and in order to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, awarding domestic and international prizes, and developing human resources in the environmental field.

In 2015, the Foundation organized the fourth “Japan-China International Symposium on Environmental Issues” in Beijing, China in commemoration of its 25th anniversary. It also presented the “AEON Beijing Environmental Proposal” with the aim of resolving global environmental issues beyond generations and borders.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties so far, the Convention has near universal participation among countries.

The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing are supplementary agreements to the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force on 11 September 2003, seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 171 Parties have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. It entered into force on12 October 2014 and to date has been ratified by 105 Parties.

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