Hungarian-born Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Julia Marton-Lefevre has been awarded the Pro Natura Award for her determined work in the interests of global environmental protection and conservation, and for the facilitation of environmental education and sustainable development. The award was bestowed by Minister for Rural Development Sándor Fazekas.

The award was presented in Parliament on Wednesday by Deputy Speaker Sándor Lezsák; State Secretary for Environmental Affairs Zoltán Illés represented the Ministry of Rural Development at the award ceremony.

Zoltán Illés and Julia Marton-Lefevre (photo: Gergely Botár)

Sándor Lezsék highlighted the fact that Hungary welcomes those who have emigrated to foreign lands with open arms, and are extremely proud of those whose life's work also brings honour and recognition to Hungary.

In his speech, Zoltán Illés paid homage to the life and work of Director General Marton-Lefevre, emphasising the fact that she has been involved in directing several international organisations for many years. Among others, she played a prominent role in the management of the LEAD program, the objective of which was to prepare leaders from around the world for the tasks and challenges related to sustainable development.

As Executive Director of the International Council for Science, Julia Marton-Lefevre worked to provide a join platform on which figures from international scientific life may work in the interests of humanity. The Director General has been the Rector of the University of Peace, and organisation established by the United Nations General Assembly, since 2005.

Julia Marton-Lefevre has filled the position of Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2007. The IUCN was founded in 1948 and was at the time the first globally operating organisation that dealt with the environment. Today, it is the largest conservation organisation of its kind, spanning the entire globe. The primary goal of the International Union is the preservation of biodiversity. The members of the IUCN include over 200 governmental and some 900 non-governmental organisations. In addition to the Ministry of Rural Development, Hungary is represented in the IUCN by several foundations and environmental protection organisations.

Zoltán Illés, Julia Marton-Lefevre and Sándor Lezsák (photo: Gergely Botár)

In a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI, the Director General said that she is extremely proud of the award she has received from her homeland, and also took the opportunity to draw attention to the fact that living in harmony with nature and the preservation of the natural environment is of paramount importance to humanity.

Zoltán Illés told MTI that in addition to environmental pollution, the greatest problem facing the world today is the destruction of nature. For this reason, it is principally the diversity of nature that must be preserved. Hungary has developed an extremely close relationship with the current Director General of the IUCN. Her efforts have had a significant effect on the development of environmental protection and conservation in Hungary, and on its positive international consideration.