April 5, 2011
Annual David Brower Award presented to Jeremy Wates
Jeremy Wates was awarded the annual David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award, established in 1997 by Land Air Water, by the co-directors of the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) in March. The award is given by students to an individual who embodies the same spirit, enthusiasm and sense of accomplishment as David Brower.
Brower, nicknamed the conference’s “grandfather,” delivered a keynote speech each year at PIELC from 1987 until his death in 2000. After fighting in the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy during World War II, Brower began mountain climbing in California and later joined the Sierra Club. He was designated the Sierra Club’s first executive director in 1952 and held the position for 27 years, bringing much political tenacity to the organization. In 1964, Brower created the Wilderness Act that created the legal definition for wilderness in the United States. After his resignation from the Sierra Club, Brower founded Friends of the Earth in 1969 and then, in 1982, created the Earth Island Institute.
Wates holds a masters degree from Cambridge University in Philosophy and Social and Political Science. He founded the Irish environmental organization, Earthwatch, in the 1980s and maintained his position for ten years. From 1999 to May 2010, Wates served as secretariat to the Aarhus Convention with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) at its location in Geneva. Prior to his position as secretary to the Aarhus Convention, he led the campaign by the European ECO Forum in order to persuade government to initiate work on a treaty on environmental democracy.
Following a sabbatical leave, Wates resigned in February 2011 from his position at the U.N. but will take on the role of secretary general of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), which works with EEB member organizations in finding a solution to reduce Europe’s ecological footprint. The EEB contains a network of 143 organizations that represent more than 15 million European environmentalists. He will begin his position in May.
Wates’ strong and conscious effort to reduce his own impact on the environment is parallel to the passion David Brower held for preserving the Earth’s natural beauty and environmental activism.