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Ethiopian Environmentalist to Speak at WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. — Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, general manager of Ethiopia’s Environmental Protection Authority and a much-honored scientist and diplomat, will speak on “The Politics of Biosafety” at noon, Wednesday, Sept. 27, in room T-101 of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Building.

Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher.
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher. Click image for a high resolution version.

“Dr. Tewolde is internationally known as someone who stands up for the environment and for farmers and farmers’ rights,” said Steve Jones, professor of crop and soil sciences. “He is a wonderful speaker, and we are honored to have him here. He offers a perspective we rarely have access to.”

Before his current position, Berhan served as dean of the faculty of science at the University of Addis Ababa from 1974 to 1978; keeper of the National Herbarium from 1978 to 1983; and president of Aswara University from 1983 to 1991.

He served as director of the Ethiopian Conservation Strategy Secretariat from 1991 until 1994 when he accepted his current position.

During the 1990s, he devoted considerable efforts into negotiations at biodiversity forums, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Food and Agricultural Organization, and has played a leading role in Third World opposition to patenting living materials.

This past April, the Ethiopian environmentalist was one of seven people honored with United Nations’ “Champions of the Earth Award.”

He received the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2000 “for his work to safeguard biodiversity and the traditional rights of farmers and communities to their genetic resources.”

The award was created in 1980 by a former member of the European Parliament to honor and support individuals who seek practical solutions for the world’s most challenging problems.