Defra Chief Scientist wins £370,000 prize

DEFRA’S chief scientific advisor, Professor Bob Watson, has won a prestigious international environmental award, worth around £370,000.

Prof Watson was announced as one of two winners of this year’s Blue Planet Prize in Japan today.

The prize is awarded each year to two individuals or organisations for outstanding achievements in scientific research, which contribute to solving global environmental problems.

Prof Watson received the award for his work on ozone depletion, which led to the Montreal protocol on reducing ozone-harmful emissions, and his time as chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997 to 2002.

The other winner was Dr James Hansen, director at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA. They prevailed in a field of 105 candidates nominated by over 2,000 people worldwide.

Both will receive a ‘supplementary award’ of 50 million yen (around £370,000), alongside a certificate of merit, a commemorative trophy when then the prize is presented in Tokyo on October 26, 2010.

Prof Watson thanked the award sponsors, Japan’s Asahi Glass Foundation, for the ‘incredible honour’.

“I have been fortunate to have worked with many of the world’s best scientists on issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, and more recently biodiversity loss and sustainable agriculture. These issues are not only environmental issues, but of importance to poverty alleviation, economic development and human security,” he said.

He said the scientific projects he had worked on had played a ‘critical role in influencing national and international policies’.

Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman, congratulated Prof Watson. “This prestigious award is well-deserved recognition for the outstanding contribution Bob has made in driving forward quality scientific research on the key environmental challenges facing the world,” she said.

“His work on ozone depletion and climate change have helped to bring about major changes in the way we see our impact on the natural world.”

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