To encourage the public to take an active interest in eco-conservation and raise the awareness of our symbiotic relationship with nature, a memorandum of agreement between the Tang Prize Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) of Taiwan was signed at the Foundation on August 11th to launch the “Conservation Projects of Asia.” These projects, which will be carried out from August 2021 through 2025 December, are part of the initiatives supported by the 2020 Tang Prize laureate in Sustainable Development, Dr. Jane Goodall, who decided to use her NT$10 million (approx. US$ 360,000) Tang Prize grant to fund a series of conservation and sustainability programs.
The Projects will support conservation and education projects in Taiwan, Malaysia, and India, including the following: (1) establish the Jane Goodall Sustainability Academy, Asia’s first experimental elementary school that focuses on conservation and sustainability issues; (2) implement Project Monyet in the Malaysia peninsular to educate people about the importance of primates through workshops and events as well as collaborate with scientists to document a variety of amazing wildlife; (3) run the Hope Project in India to connect young people with nature through workshops and events that can lead to deeper understanding, heightened awareness, and more actions. Moreover, the Youth Summits will be organized annually to facilitate collaboration among JGI teams working in different countries and to celebrate their success. Another objective is to create educational materials and resources that are diverse and can make real impact, with the aim of rebuilding the bond between human beings and the natural world.
During the signing ceremony, CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern noted that according to data released by the United Nations, by 2050, more than two thirds of the world’s population (about 6.4 billion people) will be living in urban areas, the implication being that technological advancement and rapid urbanization will see intensified human activity accelerate the destruction of the earth’s ecosystems and the depletion of resources. As a result, more green spaces will be transformed into built-up areas, wildlife habitats will be ruined, and terrible disasters, both natural and man-made, including typhoons, floods, earthquakes, forest fires, and infectious diseases, will continue to occur. Therefore, there is an urgent need to solve the problem of habitat fragmentation and maintain biodiversity through environmental conservation education, so that mankind and nature can thrive together. The Foundation would like to thank Dr. Goodall for using the grant to advance education efforts in this area, make people relate to and passionate about these issues, and consolidate resources produced previously through the Roots and Shoots program, in order that students from an early age can learn to be eco-conscious and that future generations will continue to pursue the Foundation’s main goal of promoting sustainable development.
Kelly Kok, executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute of Taiwan, pointed out that Dr. Goodall believes to immerse children in nature will motivate them to love and protect the environment and the earth. The Conservation Projects of Asia will not only build a solid foundation for future conservation work in the three countries where they take place, but will also help JGI members create and share useful educational materials that can benefit both animals and humans, not to mention the fact that they will inspire civic engagement, and foster public awareness of how precious animals are to human beings. Besides, there will be summits, workshops and other similar events to serve as platforms where people can discuss ideas in a dynamic atmosphere. In addition, she talked about how the first experimental elementary school named after Dr. Goodall would become a place where students can gain a better understanding of the wonders of nature. It will be an environment where they will feel free to explore and where the three core principles underpinning JGI’s programs can be applied, which are to help children acquire knowledge, develop empathy, and aspire to become environmental activists.
To extend the influence of Tang Prize laureates in Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law, not only is there a cash prize of NT$40 million (approx. US$1.4 million) allocated to each of the four award categories listed above, a research grant of up to NT$10 million (approx. US$360,000) is also made available for each laureate who can designate the money for any project related to their own specialist fields. The Tang Prize Foundation hopes that the partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute will enable more people to see the dedication and determination with which the Foundation keeps advocating sustainable development as well as further spread Dr. Goodall’s powerful message: our disrespect of nature led to crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss, and it is our responsibility to take care of the ecosystems on this planet.