Born in 1876, Dr Phillips specialized in Medicine and Zoology and made significant contributions to science, particularly in taxonomy and genetics. He was vitally concerned with international cooperation for the conservation of nature being closely involved with developing the early wildlife treaties. In his memory his friends established a Memorial Medal and entrusted the awarding of this recognition to IUCN. The Medal has been presented at every General Assembly and Congress since 1963.
Distinguished recipients of the Award have included HRH The Prince of the Netherlands, Indira Gandhi, HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman, Professor E. O. Wilson, Dr Luc Hoffmann and Dr José Aristeo Sarukhán Kermez, each of whom have contributed their vision, wisdom and perseverance to furthering the global conservation cause.
Maria Tereza Jorge Pádua was honoured with the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. The prize was awarded by the IUCN Council, on the recommendation of an award jury consisting of five serving members of the IUCN Constituency Committee.
Maria Tereza Jorge Padua is part of the history of nature conservation in Brazil. She was the first woman to make a significant contribution in this area, often putting her own life at risk.
Throughout her career she has created, influenced the approval, and established many national parks and other protected areas, believing such areas are fundamental to any country.
Maria Tereza graduated in Agronomic Engineering in 1966 and a gained a master's degree in Ecology and Wild Life Management.
She took the post of National Parks director of the Brazilian Institute for Forestry Development (IBDF) in 1968. During her 14 year tenure there, she created eight million hectares of national parks and biological reserves, including the Atol das Rocas (the first unit of conservation of marine life in Brazil), the Serra da Capybara (the first caatinga) and many of the Amazon parks.
In 1986, along with other conservationists, she established the Pro-Nature Foundation (Funatura), a non-governmental organisation whose mission is the conservation of nature in Brazil.
Maria Tereza chaired Funatura for nine years during which time, in an effort to promote the creation of protected areas through the initiative of private owners, she helped establish Brazil’s first Private Reserves of Natural Heritage (RPPN). Another major achievement of Funatura was the creation of the Grand National Park Hinterland Veredas in 1989. The park is classed as IUCN protected area category II (national park).
Maria Tereza has also helped develop many important conservation projects in existence today, such as as the Tamar Project (for the protection of sea turtles), the Manatee Project and the Research Centre for Bird Conservation wild (CEMAVE).
She has sat on the Boards of a number of global conservation organisations, is a former Regional Councillor for IUCN and a member of the WCPA.