World Cultural Council : Presentation of the 2004 “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education to Sir David Attenborough delivered by Prof. Michel Born

Education means building the future. Investing in education is investing in the future of our planet. It is making each generation, each child, each person, each adult aware of the fact that we are responsible for our blue planet. Sir David Attenborough realised very early that this education in responsibility was possible only if he could touch people in their everyday life and if he talked to their heart. He was a pioneer in education through the media, especially television. While making television educational, he gave a new value to this medium and elevated each person who was moved by his programmes.

In an industrial region like Liège, just as in industrial regions in Great Britain, we know how essential it is for man not to become a mechanical being, producer or consumer, separated from nature. Sir David Attenborough’s message is that man’s life has meaning only if it is in keeping with the lives of other species. This message is understood by the millions who, over 50 years, have watched his television documentaries and TV series based on animals in their natural habitats. He is now universally acknowledged as the world’s foremost naturalist and broadcaster. As a very short selection, we recall “Life On Earth” and “The Living Planet” in the 80s. In 1993 Sir David Attenborough presented the spectacular “Life in the Freezer”, a celebration of Antarctica, and in 1995 he wrote and presented “The Private Life Of Plants”. In 2000 he presented “State Of The Planet”, in 2001 “The Blue Planet” and in 2002 he brought out “The Life Of Mammals”. With this remarkable trajectory promoting the conservation of the natural world, it is obvious that Sir David Attenborough’s main concern is education. He has been the driving force, behind every endeavour accomplished by his energy and enthusiasm, in his mission to entertain, educate and inform.

Sir David Attenborough has thus dedicated his sensitivity to the great cause of education, speaking to the intelligence and to the heart of his spectators throughout his career. We warmly thank him for this.

Print version Page updated on 2009-01-27