The late Dr. Brooks Childress in the individual category and the International Wader Study Group in the institutional category are the winners of the 2012 AEWA Waterbird Conservation Award. This award, which recognizes contributions to the conservation, research and monitoring of migratory waterbirds, as well as support to the development of the Agreement, was presented at the opening ceremony of the 5th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to AEWA on 14 May 2012 in La Rochelle, France.
Earlier in 2011, the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat announced the call for nominations for the AEWA Waterbird Conservation Award in the institutional and individual categories. The nominees, all of them ardent activists in the field of waterbird conservation and thus deserving recognition, were carefully considered by the AEWA Standing Committee at its seventh meeting on 26 - 27 November 2011 in Bergen, Norway.
The final winners were selected because of their particular achievements and their activities contributing to the development of the Agreement in the areas of waterbird and habitat conservation, management of human activities, research and monitoring or education and information.
The AEWA Waterbird Conservation Award was established by the Standing Committee in 2025 and is presented at each session of the Meeting of the Parties in order to recognize and honour institutions and individuals within the Agreement area, deserving particular merit for their contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of waterbirds.
The winners of the 2012 AEWA Waterbird Conservation Award:
The late Dr. Brooks Childress, the winner in the individual category, has had a long-standing involvement in nature conservation. From 2007 – 2010 he served as the Chair of the IUCN/SSC/Wetlands International Flamingo Specialist Group (FSG). During this time, he produced the CMS/AEWA International Single Species Action Plan for the Lesser Flamingo, and raised the funds needed to hold the stakeholder action planning workshop in Kenya. As a follow up of this, national action plans were produced for Kenya and Tanzania, and national action planning is underway in South Africa and Botswana. Dr. Childress also played an important role in putting in the spotlight the plans for development of a soda ash plant at Lake Natron, a site of critical importance for the Lesser Flamingo. In recognition of this, he subsequently received the IUCN Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership in 2008.
Following a successful 27-year business career in the USA, England and Canada, Dr. Childress took up a new career in biodiversity conservation. He studied for a PhD on the breeding biology and feeding ecology of the Great Cormorants on Lake Naivasha, registered at the University of Leicester (UK) and received his doctorate in Biological Sciences in 1998. Dr. Childress has also served as a honorary Research Associate in the Threatened Species Unit of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Department of Ornithology in the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, being an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of Biology, University of Leicester.
Dr. Childress has been an inspiration, guide, mentor and friend to the conservation network in Europe and Africa over the last two decades. His hard work, dedication and professionalism helped to breathe new life into flamingo and wetland conservation in this region. Sadly, Dr. Childress passed away in July 2011.
The International Wader Study Group (IWSG), the winner in the institutional category, has been a key player in promoting AEWA’s objectives with respect to waders (shorebirds) since its entry into force in 1999. The IWSG provides a unique platform where professional and amateur researchers, united in their fascination for waders, can coordinate their work in support of the needs of the conservation of these species. Members work together to help synthesize data and information to provide much information necessary for the effective conservation of AEWA-listed waders.
The collective activity of the IWSG has been highly supportive of the development of flyway scale waterbird conservation. Its development of strategic approaches to flyway conservation in the 1990s influenced the development of the Agreement and its Action Plan. Since then, the IWSG has provided key data for instance for the Wader Atlas, a milestone publication, supported by AEWA, on numbers, distribution and movements of these waterbirds. The IWSG has strengthened flyway-scale links throughout the AEWA region and also to North America and eastern Asia, through its annual conferences, workshops and joint research projects.
The UNEP/AEWA Secretariat warmly congratulates the winners of the 2012 Award and gratefully acknowledges their major contributions to waterbird conservation in the AEWA region.
We would also like to thank all those involved in nominating candidates for this award, whose excellent achievements were equally recognized during the selection procedure.
We hope that this award serves as an inspiration for all the many conservationists working together towards the protection of AEWA species.