Kamal Bawa, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, has been named the recipient of the Gunnerus Sustainability Award, the world's first major international award for work on sustainability. The award is being given by The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters.
Society President Kristian Fossheim said in a press release, "The DKNVS aims to make this a global prize of quality and importance worthy of comparison to the Nobel Prizes in science."
The selection of Bawa took place after a jury process in which five internationally prominent researchers considered a number of international nominees from many countries, according to the organization.
"We are very pleased to have selected such a worthy winner of the first Gunnerus award," said Fossheim.
A pioneer in tropical biology and international conservation, Bawa joined the UMass Boston Biology Department in 1974. Bawa is most noted for his pioneering research on population biology in rainforest areas. His wide span of work includes groundbreaking biological discoveries made in Central America and in the Western Ghats and the Himalayas in India. Specifically, he explores the role of institutions and market-based approaches to conservation, with a focus on the relationships among poverty, institutions, and community-based conservation.
Bawa told a Norwegian newspaper that he was very pleased about the recognition. "A large part of my work during the last several years has been the establishment of ATREE, a nonprofit conservation and development research think-tank in India. In January 2011, a University of Pennsylvania study ranked ATREE 19th among the environmental think-tanks in the world, and implicitly the first in Asia, and now the Gunnerus Award. I am naturally very happy," he said.
The Gunnerus award is the first major international prize for outstanding scientific work that promotes sustainable development globally, and will be awarded every two years starting in 2012. The award is named after DKNVS' founder, Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus (1718-1773), and is the result of a collaboration between DKNVS, Sparebank1 SMN, and the society Technoport. DKNVS has been responsible for the international launch, and the selection of the winner.
Bawa will receive the Gunnerus Gold Medal and the award of $190,000 during a ceremony in Trondheim, Norway on April 17.