Assad Serhal will be granted IUCN’s highest awards in the upcoming conference in Marseille
Assad Serhal, the Director General of SPNL (Birdlife Lebanon) and the winner of Midori Prize 2018 is nominated by IUCN Council, on the recommendation of the Awards Jury, to the World Conservation Congress for the conferral of Honorary Membership. The event will take place in September 2021 in Marseille, France, at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2021.
Serhal was invited to partake in the Awards Ceremony on 8 September 2021, where the Union’s worldwide constituency of nearly 1’400 Members, has decided to bestow upon him one of IUCN’s highest awards.
Honorary Membership is awarded once every four years on the occasion of IUCN’s World Conservation Congress to recognize outstanding services to the conservation of nature and natural resources and exceptional contributions to furthering the goals of the Union. The award which consists of a certificate and a citation was created at the founding of IUCN in 1948 and as you will see here, there have been many distinguished recipients in the past.
Mr Assad Serhal was born in the village of Keyfoun in the foothills of Mount Lebanon. Like many other children in Lebanon, some of his earliest experiences of the outdoors were on hunting trips with his father to the Lebanese countryside.
Social and political instability intensified in the Middle East during Assad Serhal’s youth. When the civil war broke out in 1976, Mr Serhal was on what was supposed to be a two-week visit to London. Yet a teenager, he was alone and unable to return to war-torn Beirut for one year. Forced to live by his wits and resources and through the generosity of people who helped him, his experiences in London were a major influence on his outlook and his career.
Mr Serhal studied ecology and wildlife management at Oklahoma State University. He remained in the United States to gain experience and then, to the surprise of many , opted to return home to contribute to the conservation of Lebanon’s unique, diverse, and highly threatened ecosystems and biodiversity. Lebanon was still in the midst of civil war. Many friends thought that Mr Serhal’s decision was not a wise one, but he was convinced of the need to put his training to use in his homeland, where such knowledge and knowhow was lacking That is when he cofounded The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL ) , Year 1983 www.spnl.org .Where his consultancy status with IUCN changed to SPNL an IUCN member .
A small sampling of the organizations Mr Serhal has worked with include the IUCN , where together with Lebanese Ministry of Environment , GEF, UNDP , local NGOs & SPNL , initiated what is known the 1st Protected Areas Project for Lebanon , Year 1993. Also initiated the hima revival with Mercy corps year 2004 , with the 1st hima at Ebel Elsaqi in Southern Lebanon .Since then Assad & SPNL and always in partnership with local municipalities and the generous support and funding from AFD , FEEM , EU, CEPF, USAID, UNDP, MAVA Foundation, Swiss Embassy , SDC , Official Development Assistance (Japan), Jensen Foundation ,Mercy Corps , Global Environment Fund, and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality , SRT and many others , so far 25 Hima Protected Areas got established , representing approximately 6% of Lebanon’s territory IBAs / KBAs . He also closely worked with Birdlife International since it was International Council For Bird Preservation in 1982, serving three times as Birdlife International Global Councillor, representing the Middle East Region Partnership, including 2018-22 Council.
The Middle East faces uncertainty in the years ahead, but Mr Assad Serhal’s hope is to create a network of likeminded people committed to strengthening local communities and having natural area management consistent with the physical, ecological, and cultural environment of the region. Mr Serhal is working to groom a new generation of determined, creative, and positive staff at SPNL and in sister organizations in neighbouring countries, in addition to empowering young generation at Himas, in order to make the Middle East a shining example for nature conservation and local empowerment.
Mr Assad Serhal is also the MIDORI Prize Winner for Biodiversity, year 2018.
Decorated by minister of environment with the “ Silver Lebanese Order of Merit Medal “ , offered to Assad by The President of Lebanon , year 2019