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A lasting legacy for conservation and environmental protection


WWF statement on the death of Dr Wolfgang E. Burhenne

WWF mourns the passing of international environmental lawyer Dr Wolfgang E. Burhenne aged 92 on Friday 6 January 2017. A signatory to the Morges Manifesto, which established the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1961 and the driving force behind some of the world’s most important international environmental treaties, Dr Burhenne leaves behind a legacy of environmental protection.

Born in Hannover in 1924, Dr Burhenne was instrumental in the drafting and implementation of key environmental treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the 1982 World Charter for Nature, and the 1985 Association for South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. He also served as Chairman of the IUCN’s Commission on Environmental Law from 1963-1969 and 1977-1990.

Recognized globally for his invaluable contribution toward safeguarding the environment, Dr Burhenne was the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Elizabeth Haub Prize for Environmental Law, the Environmental Law Institute Award, the Harold Jefferson Coolidge Medal and UNEP Sasakawa Prize.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International said:
“The world has lost one of its greatest legal minds committed to protecting the planet and ensuring a sustainable future for all. As we mourn the passing of Dr Burhenne, we must be inspired by his extraordinary vision and honour his contribution to conservation by ensuring we continue to respect, enforce and strengthen the laws he designed to preserve nature and wildlife.”