Something amazing happened right before I left Paraguay for a 3 week vacation at the end of September, my boss and the Director of WWF Paraguay, Lucy Aquino, was recognized as a a Global Hero of Conservation and was invited to a conference in Washington D.C. along with 5 other remarkable women. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this award and feel so honored to be able to work in her presence everyday.
The event was hosted by the Alliance for Global Conservation – a partnership of Conservation International, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund. The invitees were inspirational women from around the world who are doing critically important, but lesser known, work in conservation. The distinguished list of invitees included; Dr. Wangari Maathai (Founder of Green Belt Movement, Kenya), Suzan Baptiste (Chairman and Founder of Natureseekers, Trinidad), Sangduen “Lek” Chailert (Founder of Elephant Nature Park, Thailand), Mary Mavanza (Manager of TACARE Program of the Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania), Habiba Sorabi (Governor of Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province, Afghanistan), and Annabell Waititu (Executive Director of the Institute of Environment and Water, Kenya).
The Alliance for Global Conservation focuses on the impact of environmental degradation specifically affecting women and children around the world. They invited female leaders in conservation to come to D.C. to share their stories and their unique models of conservation with other women and U.S. thought leaders. While in D.C. the participants had the opportunity to participate in a number of briefings with policymakers and the media, as well as a special audience with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, to tell the compelling stories of the roles they have had in conservation around the world.
Lucy was selected for this very distinguished honor for her life’s work protecting Paraguay’s natural environment. Her work with WWF over the last 10 years has marked encouraging changes in the views of conservation throughout the country, and continent. Through her dedication, Lucy was able to spearhead Zero Deforestation legislation in Paraguay’s Atlantic Forest, WWF Paraguay’s primary target zone. This legislation, and the work that accompanies it, not only benefits the natural landscape of Paraguay, but also provides a more hopeful future for the indigenous communities and families living within the forest remnants who still depend on the forest for their survival. It is with this type of dedication and conviction that Lucy has been able to carve a new path for conservation in Paraguay, inspiring others to do the same and earning her a place among the Women Heroes of Global Conservation.