Dr Gerardo Budowski, IUCN’s first Director General, who served from 1970 to 1976, passed away earlier this week.
“I had the privilege of working with don Gerardo in Costa Rica where he was an important intellectual resource for the University for Peace of which I was Rector. When I was selected for the position of Director General of IUCN in 2006, I immediately sought his wise advice and support”, said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “Gerardo’s important contributions to conservation will remain in our hearts and minds”, she added.
Dr Budowski was one of the most respected scientists devoted to tropical ecology and natural resource management. He was born in Venezuela where he began his studies as an agricultural engineer and later earned his Master’s degree at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in Costa Rica in 1954.
Dr Budowski obtained his doctoral degree in 1961 from Yale University then went on to work for UNESCO and for IICA, where he was head of the Natural Resources Programme. At the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), he directed the Natural Resources Department. During his remarkable career, Dr Budowski produced more than 300 publications in Spanish, English, French and German.
Dr Budowski, a lover of photography and ecotourism, was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Henri Pittier Medal from the Government of Venezuela, the ‘Siempre Verd’ Medal of the Government of Nicaragua, and the Golden Arc from The Netherlands, among others. He was an honorary member of the World Wildlife Fund and IUCN. He was also designated the ‘Most Outstanding Graduate’ of IICA-CATIE, at the institution’s 50th anniversary and Emeritus Professor of both CATIE and the University of Peace.
In 2011, Dr Budowski received a tribute from IUCN’s Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC) for his career and life dedicated to conservation and scientific research.
“He was a helping hand, a teacher, someone who was always respectful in matters of gender, youth, new ideas”, said Grethel Aguilar, Director of ORMACC.
IUCN sends it condolences to Dr Budowski’s wife, Thelma Palma, his wife, and their two daughters. The Union is proud of all Dr Budowski’s outstanding contributions in helping achieve ‘a just world that values and conserves nature’. He will always be remembered as a man who led the way for conservation.