Environmental advocate acclaimed with prestigious Desmond Tutu reconciliation award
Media Release from the Global Reconciliation: Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship
5 September 2018
Environmental advocate for nomadic pastoral communities across the Horn of Africa, Dr Zeremariam Fre, has been awarded the 2018 Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship.
The Fellowship, which this year focuses on environmental care, promotes reconciliation by bringing global support to individuals engaged in local projects. It recognises Dr Fre’s lifetime work supporting pastoral peoples, advocating for their rights to land and care of the natural resources that support them.
For over 30 years, Dr Fre has made a significant contribution to securing the rights of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities, promoting sustainable development and environmental care and conserving and sharing indigenous knowledge. In 1989, he founded the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA), an African-led international NGO respected for fostering cooperation in a region that has been beset with unrest and insecurity.
Dr Fre has been a passionate and committed spokesperson for marginalised pastoralists in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Sudan and Uganda, facilitating knowledge sharing and cooperation across communities and borders. He has fostered an understanding of pastoralism as an economically rational and environmentally sound way of living, and of pastoralists as effective custodians of the environment on which they rely.
Announcing the award, Fellowship Chairman Dr Charles Lane said Dr Fre had sought local and community-led solutions to environmental and livelihood challenges which can be replicated, adapted and shared. His approach to pastoral development focuses on environmental sustainability and is shaped by a commitment to regionalism, reconciliation, and grass-roots action.
“This approach has helped change how people think about their situation and given hope to other marginalised communities across the region and beyond”.
“Dr Fre’s contribution stood out among a competitive global field of impressive nominees for the Fellowship, who are all working tirelessly to make our world a better, more peaceful and compassionate place”, Dr Lane said.
One of Australia’s leading environmentalists and authors, Tim Flannery, will share his ideas and present Dr Fre with the Fellowship at an award ceremony at the Melbourne Town Hall on 4 October 2018.
Dr Fre is the ninth recipient of the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship. Recent winners include South Sudanese musician and activist, Emanuel Jal FGR and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO FGR.
Global Reconciliation aims to research and promote reconciliation through dialogue and practical engagements across national, cultural, religious and racial differences in Australia and overseas. Learn more about Global Reconciliation at www.globalreconciliation.org.
The Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship is a flagship project of Global Reconciliation, recognising and supporting people contributing to reconciliation within, between and across communities. Find more about the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship at www.globalreconciliation.org/what-we-do/tutu-reconciliation-fellowships/.
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Photo credit: Jeff Salzer/PENHA 2016, Afar Region, Ethiopia