Academia Sinica Academician Chao-Han Liu announced at a press conference held on June 18 in the Tang Prize Foundation that Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace and one of the most influential primatologists today, was awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development , “for her ground-breaking discovery in primatology that redefines human-animal relationship and for her lifelong unparalleled dedication to the conservation of Earth environment”.
Persistent dedication to her cause
Dr. Goodall famously remarked that “My job is to give people hope”. To live up to this expectation, even at the age of 86, she still works tirelessly to advocate the protection of chimpanzees and of the environment. Not even the Covid-19 pandemic can slow her down. No one knows Dr. Goodall’s dedication to her work more clearly than Kelly Kok, executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute of Taiwan. When asked how the Tang Prize compared with a long list of accolades Dr. Goodall has already earned, Mrs. Kok emphasized that Dr. Goodall felt deeply honoured to be a Tang Prize laureate, adding that each award for her is an encouragement as it strengthens her motivation to pursue the cause she has been committed to her entire life.
Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic
In response to the question about the reason behind choosing Dr. Goodall as the 2020 laureate, Academician Liu pointed out that of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely environmental conservation, economic development, and social justice, Dr. Goodall’s contributions to the first one are nothing short of significant. Academician Pao-Kuan Wang also reminded us that one of Dr. Goodall’s achievements is to convince us that to live harmoniously with animals and nature, mankind needs to re-evaluate our relationships with them. This observation rings particularly true during the global coronavirus pandemic, especially when we take into consideration how Dr. Goodall has been attributing the cause of this health crisis to human beings' mistreatment of animals and disrespect of nature.
Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern, CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation, mentioned the previous Tang Prize laureates in Sustainable Development in his opening speech, noting that the inaugural laureate Gro Brundtland is known as the godmother of sustainable development, 2016 winner Arthur Rosenfeld was dubbed the godfather of energy efficiency, and 2018 awardees James Hansen and Veerabhadran Ramanthan have substantially increased our awareness of climate change. Succeeding them as the latest recipient of the Tang Prize, Dr. Goodall has proved herself to be a worthy winner, because her lifelong devotion to the defense of animal rights and her call for serious reflection on our interaction with nature have urged us all to follow in her footsteps and push the agenda for sustainable development.