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Francisco González Rodríguez Updated: 30 Nov 2017

The BBVA Foundation presents its Biodiversity Conservation Awards

“Conserving nature is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Group Executive Chairman Francisco González said at the ceremony for the BBVA Foundation’s annual awards to the best biodiversity conservation projects in Spain and Latin America.

The winners of the 12th edition of the awards were, in the Spain category, the Association of Naturalists from the Southeast (Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste, ANSE); in the Latin America category, the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Laboratory of Ecology and Wildlife Conservation (Laboratorio de Ecología y Conservación de Fauna Silvestre de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM); and in the category of Knowledge Dissemination and Awareness, Caty Arévalo, environmental correspondent for the Spanish news agency EFE.

The pressing loss of biodiversity documented by scientists, together with other evidence such as high temperatures and prolonged drought, corroborate the feeling that we are in a countdown in terms of the planet’s health, Francisco González said.

Today, the work of conservation “is justified, not only because it is a moral, ethical or aesthetic duty. We need nature for our own survival,” he said. The BBVA Group Executive Chairman also warned that we cannot limit ourselves to acting only during times of crisis. “Conserving biodiversity cannot be an emergency response. It needs to be a constant, in public policies and in the actions of private institutions and each individual.”

We need nature for our own survival”

“We are all responsible and should all be part of the solution,” Francisco González insisted. “We need to plan our strategy and sustain it over time in order to face this enormous challenge and allow ourselves to be guided by the scientific community, which provides the necessary knowledge to identify where and how to act.”

A historic moment

The awards jury included scientists, communicators and representatives of NGOs. In the document justifying their decisions for the various awards, they stressed that we are at a historic moment. While science has demonstrated that protecting the environment is more urgent now than ever before, society is “subjected to messages devoid of truth and contrary to scientific evidence”.

In fact, the two winners of these awards, who received a total of €585,000, owe much of their success to the fact that their projects are based on solid scientific knowledge.

ANSE, the Spanish Association of Naturalists from the Southeast, was recognized for its efforts to conserve and promote an ecologically unique region in Europe that is subject to intense human pressure: the semi-arid ecosystem in the Southeastern Iberian Peninsula and especially the Mar Menor.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Laboratory of Ecology and Wildlife Conservation has helped to create 20 nature reserves in the country, covering millions of hectares, and to implement plans to protect endangered species, including the jaguar.

In the Knowledge Dissemination and Awareness category, the jury applauded the “quality and rigor” of EFE environmental correspondent Caty Arévalo’s reporting. Her work, the result of rigorous training, reaches millions of people around the world, giving extensive dissemination to knowledge based on the most knowledgeable sources in environmental science.