Conservation legend Attenborough wins Crystal Award

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 24 January 2019

On Monday 21 January, the World Economic Forum kicked off its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland with its 25th Crystal Award Ceremony.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) hosts the international conference at the beginning of each year and invites world and business leaders to weigh in on the world’s biggest issues and emerging trends, including discussions on environmental matters.

Image credit: WEF/Benedikt von Loebell.

Sir David Attenborough received a 2019 Crystal Award, one of three bestowed upon exceptional artists and cultural leaders whose work is felt to improve the world and embody ‘the spirit of Davos’, as the annual meeting for the Swiss non-profit is known.

Hilda Schwab of the WEF awards presents Attenborough one of three Crystal Awards. Image credit: WEF/Greg Beadle.

Attenborough is perhaps best known as the familiar and beloved narrator of nature and wildlife documentaries.

The 92 year-old Briton has enjoyed an illustrious broadcasting career and in his acceptance speech on Monday night he implored global leaders at Davos and the younger generations of the world to care for the natural world and ‘treat it with a degree of respect and reverence’.

Attenborough addresses WEF audience in acceptance speech. Image credit: WEF/Greg Beadle.

The Briton spoke about his humble as well as fantastic beginnings as a broadcaster tracing and documenting life on earth, and his Blue Planet documentary series which was a particularly big success. His new Netflix series, Our Planet will be available for anyone with an internet connection to watch for free via the World Wide Fund for Nature, a lot more accessible compared to 60 years ago when his content was limited to viewers in southern England, he said.

The value of these documentaries is that they have the power to inform society, something Attenborough touched on in an interview with HRH the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, the next day.

‘If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission to business and governments to get on with the practical solutions,’ he told the audience at the award ceremony.

Prince William interviews the man of the hour. Image credit: WEF/Benedikt von Loebell.

In an interview with the prince, Sir David reflected on the past five to six decades and how technology has changed filmmaking, and in turn the nature of wildlife and conservation documentaries.

When the Duke of Cambridge asked Attenborough’s advice on how his (the younger) generation can build on what he’s started, the famous naturalist answered that we should all be more conscientious about where our food, air and everyday resources come – the natural world.

The broadcaster also remarked, ‘Fifty or 60 years ago… very few people in Britain or indeed Europe had actually seen a pangolin or an armadillo, so it didn’t matter how badly or amateurish [sic] you were, if you showed a shot of an armadillo… people weren’t looking at it critically, they just saw an armadillo… so making natural history films in those days was comparatively easy. Just show the animals and people were astounded.’

‘The future of the natural world is in our hands. In our daily lives, the thing I really care for… is not to waste the riches of the natural world on which we depend. it’s not just energy, but it’s also dealing with the natural world with a degree of respect. Don’t throw away food, or throw away power, just care for the natural world, of which we are a part,’ Attenborough told Prince William.

Coming from the man who inspired a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world in so many of us, these very easy-to-follow pearls of wisdom shouldn’t be too difficult to remember and put into practice.

The global conference in Davos wraps up on Friday 25 January.

Featured image: World Economic Forum/Greg Beadle . 

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