12 August 2016
It’s impossible to imagine the planet without water. One woman, Dr Jackie King, has devoted her career to this vital commodity. She has passionately worked for 40 years on aquatic ecology, and for her outstanding effort, the World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) awarded her the Living Planet Award.
She received the accolade during the fourth Living Planet Conference held in Sandton, Johannesburg at the end of July. The theme this year was “Why South Africa’s future is brighter than you think: a case for optimism”.
“In a world filled with seemingly overwhelming challenges, for this year’s Living Planet Conference we decided to turn the question of sustainability on its head,” said WWF-SA chief executive Dr Morné du Plessis.
“It is a challenge to us all to think more positively about the changes we can make for the better of all South Africans, particularly in the quest for a more sustainable and equitable future.”
Water, the source of all life
“We have to look after rivers for them to look after us,” King said. She described rivers as the “life blood of the Earth”. A change of water flow, she said, influenced everything.
“It costs more to fix something in the natural environment than it is to take care of it in the first place.”
The WWF-SA praised King for leading scientific teams around the world, working on the management of river flows. Other than scientists, she is engaged with planners and legislators across the globe.
King has worked on major river systems, including the Nile in northeastern Africa, Mekong in southeast Asia, Indus in south Asia and Okavango in southwest Africa.
The award is in recognition of her efforts to ensure that aquatic ecological research is
tied to sustainable development and proper management of complex river systems. “Her innovative and practical approaches gave effect to improved water management in the real world,” said the WFF-SA.
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