Hon. Lisel Alamilla wins prestigious Whitley Award Fund

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Lisel Alamilla receiving the 2012 Whitley Fund for Nature Award from the Princess Royal, Princess Anne

Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, is one of the recipients of the 2012 Whitley Foundation Awards. She received the Whitley Fund for Nature award from the Princess Royal at the 2012 Whitley Awards Ceremony, held on the 9th of May at The Royal Geographical Society in London.

Alamilla joins six other nominees from countries like Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, and Costa Rica in competing for project funding worth £30,000 (US$48,480). The honour recognises the Minister’s work to unite and equip the people who live in the Maya Golden Landscape to match development pressures, including population growth, agricultural change and increased demand for natural resources, with protection for the area’s world-class scenery, wildlife and traditions. The Whitely Foundation granted her the funding, donated by the William Brake Charitable Trust, which she has stated to hand over to the Ya’axche Conservation Trust here in Belize.

The San Pedro Sun would like to congratulate Minister Alamilla on this award and to thank her for all the hard work and dedication that she has given to Belize and its people. We are immensely proud of her and this wonderful achievement.

Here is a full transcript of her acceptance speech:

Lisel Alamilla, Whitley Fund for Nature Award Speech

I really take after my father; he was a champion for social justice. Six week ago I learnt that when my dad dropped me off for my first day of preschool he told the teacher “take good care of her as you have in your care a future minister of government”. Was this coincidental or did he see something in me? 

He took all of us, his five children to political rallies. During school holidays he dropped me off at the Supreme Court so that I could listen to interesting cases and see women lawyers in action. And he took me to his work on the weekends where I sat in his chair and pretended I was the boss. And most interesting when there were riots against Belize getting its independence he took me to observe the protest. I was just 14 and I clearly remember being tear-gassed. But what I learnt from all of this is the importance of being the voice of the voiceless and making the “invisible people” visible. By definition wildlife does not have a voice I want to give it a voice and make sure that they never become invisible 

So, without consciously planning it I became an activist seeking social justice. And today I firmly believe that we cannot achieve conservation goals without creating a society that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity. A society that understands and values human rights.A society that recognizes the dignity of every human being.Ya’axche’ Conservation Trust believes in this, practices it and is passionate about it. And I ask all of you to learn from what we have done in Belize… if we can do it, so can you.

May 9th, 2012, London, England

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