US: Esri co-founder Jack Dangermond has received the 2013 Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental award. Dangermond has been chosen for his contribution in promoting the use of geospatial technology for environment conservation.
Jack Dangermond co-founded Esri with his wife Laura in 1969. Since then Esri’s GIS-based solutions have played a vital role in several environment conservation programmes. Esri’s ArcGIS software suite has helped understand areas in danger of biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, and resource depletion. In 2007, Esri introduced remotely triggered cameras and sophisticated tools which revolutionised Snow Leopard Conservancy’s ability to learn about snow leopards and map their habitat. Esri also used GIS to develop a new tool for wildlife corridor design within the Sonoran Desert, a biologically diverse region that spans southern Arizona and California in the United States and Baja California and Sonora in Mexico.
“We have been privileged to work for nearly 30 years supporting various UN initiatives from environment, conservation and agriculture to humanitarian and statistical missions. In all of this, the use of GIS has changed how people understand our world and create practical solutions. We are very appreciative of this acknowledgement. It illustrates the increasing recognition of the role geoscience is playing in our global evolution,” said Jack Dangermond.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said, “Leadership and vision will be the hallmarks of a transition to an inclusive Green Economy in developed and developing countries alike. That transition is underway and has been given fresh impetus by the outcomes of last year’s Rio+20 Summit.” “This year’s Champions of the Earth are among those who are putting in place the actions, policies and pathways to scale-up and accelerate such transformations. As such, they are lightning rods towards a sustainable 21st Century,” he added.
Google Earth has also received the Entrepreneurial Vision Award for providing a powerful tool to monitor the state of the environment, allowing researchers to detect deforestation, classify land cover and estimate forest biomass and carbon and thus demonstrate the scale of problems and illustrate solutions. Science and Innovation Award has been given to Veerabhadran Ramanathan, the renowned geospatial scientist and Director at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.