April 14, 2008
First of all, I want to say thank you very much to the Goldman family for honouring me with this Prize.
Also congratulations to all the other recipients. It’s quite amazing what you all did and I feel we are a bit like family!
Winning this prize means a lot for me and my family, my team and all my friends. Without them it wasn’t possible. This honor gives me energy to go on and make our dream of a sustainable planet come true.
I would like you all to think for a moment about a lion and a polar bear. Do you think a lion and a polar bear know how valuable they are?
Do you think that a lion and a polar bear know they are connected to the healthiness of their ecosystems? The answer is “no”, they don’t!
The value of a lion and a polar bear is the value that people give. We! So it’s up to us to make a change. We as citizens of wealthy countries must take responsibility for biodiversity. Why should we ask developing countries to protect the rainforest if we cannot protect our own environment? Let’s give a sign to the world!
What I know is this: we cannot continue to abuse the planet. There is no business to be done on a dead planet. We urgently need new approaches to the way we live. Looking out at this amazing crowd, I believe that we are ready to get to work.
By making the first National Park in Belgium – one of the most densely populated regions in world – we started to think outside of the box. We successfully protected biodiversity and have shown that nature conservation can be an instrument for economic development, too.
Many of you may not know this, but the first national park in the world was established here, in the US, more than 100 years ago. Yellowstone Stone National Park was founded for the benefit of the people – for the benefit of the people.
This concept inspired me to do the things I do. If we all use this as a foundation, I strongly believe we can dream again of a sustainable world.
Martin Luther King never inspired others with “I have a nightmare.” He started with “I have a dream” so let’s now make our dream come true, and take responsibility for the benefit of the people, for the benefit of the next generations. Think globally, act locally and change personally!