Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta awarded Kew International Medal for work to protect nature and stop biodiversity loss
Release date: 2 September 2021
- Economist Dasgupta selected by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to receive prestigious award following his ground-breaking report The Economics of Biodiversity
- The Dasgupta Review recommendations are aligned to Kew’s own work and mission to show that all life on Earth, including humanity, depends on nature
- Delivering a lecture at a ceremony at Kew Gardens today, Dasgupta said: “We need to create an affection for nature. That desecrating nature is in a sense desecrating ourselves.”
RBG Kew is proud to announce the recipient of this year’s Kew International Medal is Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, a world-leading economist and author of The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review – an independent, global report calling for transformative change in the way we think, act and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world.
Professor Dasgupta was selected for his vital work authoring the review, which was published earlier this year. The Review is the first of its kind, providing a comprehensive framework for thinking about and approaching economics, and the decisions it gives rise to, in way which properly accounts for the natural world. It reinforces the compelling narrative that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option for the future of planet and people.
On accepting his award at Kew Gardens in London today, Dasgupta said: “Our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of Nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them. To do so requires bringing face to face economics and ecology. I’m delighted and honoured to accept this award, from a world-renowned institution which continues to contribute so much to our understanding of the latter.”
During his lecture, Partha commented: “We need to create an affection for nature. That desecrating nature is in a sense desecrating ourselves. Now how do you do that? Education, we need to understand nature, what Kew does for example. To develop an affection requires an understanding of the amazing mystery of what’s going on in keeping it alive.”
In selecting Dasgupta for this the 14th Kew International medal, Richard Deverell, Director of RBG Kew said: “It is an honour to award this medal to Partha for his passion and commitment to protect nature and stop biodiversity loss for the long-term benefit of people and the planet. The premise of Dasgupta’s Review is very much at the heart of RBG Kew’s own work and mission – that all life on Earth, including humanity, depends on nature. Kew’s experience in over 100 countries documenting, protecting and promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity supports his conclusion that our demands on nature are untenable.
We are extremely thankful for Partha’s authorship of this review, the first of its kind and delivered at a critical moment for humanity with planetary health on a knife edge. As we look ahead to both COP26 for climate change, and COP15 for biodiversity, we hope Partha’s report will materially shape global policies and commitments.”
First established in 1992, the prestigious Kew International Medal is an annual award given to individuals for distinguished, internationally recognised work aligned to the mission of Kew. Nominations are received from across the organisation and a selection panel decides the winner. Previous award winners include Sir David Attenborough (1996); Juan Santos, then President of Colombia (2017) and Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders and former President of Ireland (2018).
RBG Kew’s own work is aiming to help stop biodiversity loss and to promote sustainable use of nature. In March 2021, Kew launched its 10-year strategy to help end the extinction crisis and protect nature, pledging to intensify efforts to understand and protect plants and fungi, for the well-being of people and the future of all life on Earth. In the wake of a global pandemic, and with the future of the planet in peril, the strategy represents a public commitment by Kew to do everything in its power to reverse the environmental devastation of biodiversity loss and climate change.
Awarding the medal to Sir Partha at the lecture in Kew Gardens today, Dame Amelia Fawcett, Chair of the Board of Trustees of RBG Kew said: “As we lead up to COP15 and COP26, RBG Kew is perfectly placed as a globally revered plant science institute to lead efforts in creating a world where nature is protected. Drawing on our scientific research, unrivalled collections of plants and fungi, global network of partners, and our gardens at Kew and Wakehurst, we will seek to shape policy and lead by example as an advocate for environmental sustainability.”
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About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant and fungal diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew Gardens’ 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world, as well as over 500 acres of designed landscapes, wild woodlands, ornamental gardens and a nature reserve. The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre is Kew’s third research centre and only overseas office. RBG Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support RBG Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
The Kew International Medal
The Kew International Medal was first established in 1992 by the Board of Trustees and is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to science and conservation and the critical challenges facing humanity. Previous recipients include Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury (1994); Sir David Attenborough (1996); Stella Ross-Craig (1999); Margaret Stones (2000); Mary Grieson (2003); Peter H. Raven (2009); Jared Diamond (2012); E. O. Wilson (2014); Dr Kiat W. Tan (2015); Professor Sebsebe Demissew (2016); President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (2017), Mary Robinson (2019) and Sandra Diaz (2020).