Korea Nobel Prize

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Forbes Korea , July 2015 issue (Korean Monthly Magazine)

Translated by PR Department of Tongil Foundation 

 

‘Korea Nobel Prize’

The Winners of the First Sunhak Peace Prize are President Anote Tong and Dr. Modadugu Gupta

 

The “Sunhak Peace Prize,” established to realize the peace vision of “One Family Under God” and to carry on the legacy of world peace led by the late founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has selected its first recipients. The awardees are Kiribati President Anote Tong and India’s Dr. Modadugu Gupta.

The co-recipients of the first Sunhak Peace Prize are the Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong (63) for raising awareness in the global community on the gravity of climate change and India’s Dr. Modadugu Gupta (76) for contributing towards resolving poverty and the food crisis in Southeast Asia. According to the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee (Chairman Il-Shik Hong, former Secretary General of Korea University), “President Tong is a global leader who has brought the global community into agreement concerning the dangers of climate change.” President Tong’s homeland, the Republic of Kiribati, is a small Pacific island nation made up of 33 coral islands, and sustains a population of approximately one hundred thousand people. With a very low average altitude of two meters above sea level, its islands are gradually being submerged by the rising sea levels caused by recent years of global warming. It faces the tragic fate of having its entire nation submerged by 2050. President Tong was elected as the fifth president of the Republic of Kiribati in 2003, and during his three consecutive terms, he has been actively working to raise awareness on the critical situation caused by climate change, and has been urging the global community to find resolution measures.

He adopted the “Ambo Declaration” at the Kiribati Climate Change Agreement Conference (TCCC) held in 2010 where heads from each nation were invited. It is a declaration urging economic powers to investigate the cause of climate change and to collaborate on 18 pressing issues in order to take concrete actions toward resolving its negative environmental consequences. At the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (UNFCCC) held in Mexico during that same year, this declaration became the stepping stone for advanced economic nations to come to support nations like Kiribati who are vulnerable to climate change.

According to the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, President Tong stood as an example, despite this hopeless situation, in fighting for the protection of the marine ecosystem for future generations, even when that meant making economic sacrifices.

 

Contributing to the Peace and Welfare of Future Generations

At the World Conservation Headquarters Conference in 2006, President Tong declared the “Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA)” to protect the Phoenix Islands, an oceanic coral archipelago ecosystem within his homeland. Furthermore, in 2008, he declared 400,000 square kilometers of marine habitat in the Phoenix Islands as an “Ocean Conservation Park” where fishing and harvesting are prohibited. He sacrificed substantial economic benefits of his homeland, as the establishment of neighboring seas as ocean conservation parks and protection areas limits some parts of the commercial fishing industry.

President Tong also created the program “Immigration with Dignity” in order to protect the human rights of the Kiribati citizens who face the imminent danger of their nation being submerged in an estimated 30 years. This is a program that reflects his warm love for humanity. It aims to protect both the dignity and human rights of the people in the face of a hopeless situation and having lost their livelihood. “Immigration with Dignity” provides various professional vocational training programs such as nursing, sailing and gardening as well as language education programs. In recognition of these kinds of activities, President Tong was awarded the Peter Benchley Ocean Award and the Hillary Award (in the field of climate equality) in 2012, and he has been sought after as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. President Tong revealed, “I am happy that through this Sunhak Peace Prize I can raise greater awareness on the gravity of climate change and gather more wisdom on implementing resolution measures. It is very inspiring that Korea, which is not even an international organization like the UN, is taking a great interest to climate change.”

The co-recipient, Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta of India, is a fisheries scientist and is known as the “Pioneer of the Blue Revolution” and “Southeast Asia’s saint for the poor people.” This is because he has invested his entire life into developing aquaculture technology in order to prepare for the future food crisis, and has succeeded in creating a revolution by increasing the numbers of cultivated fish.

Dr. Gupta saw aquaculture as the key to resolving the food crisis of the future, and since 1960, he has been researching and developing various fish species that are best suited for Southeast Asia’s hot and humid climate and lowland flooding environment. In 1980 in particular, he discovered fish species such as Tilapia and Silver Babu that can survive in Bangladesh’s murky and shallow waters. As a result, Bangladesh’s aquaculture production, which was a mere 170,000 tons in 1986, increased to 850,000 tons by 2005. Since 2000, he has been working to develop farming technology that is suitable for Africa, the bastion of world starvation.

Dr. Gupta is also known as a “saint for the poor people.” This is because he developed a fish farming technique that can be managed at a low cost by impoverished individuals and families. He came up with “fish polyculture” where several species of fish are cultivated together in one pond and “Integrate Aquaculture Agriculture (IAA),” which is an eco-friendly method of integrating aquaculture with agriculture. He then provided it to the impoverished population, making possible the miracle of self-sufficiency and independence.

Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, “This award gives me new energy towards accomplishing my goal. My lifelong goal has been to reduce starvation and poverty and build a peaceful society.”

The Sunhak Peace Prize was established by the founder of the Family Federation, the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han (72) in order to discover and recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed towards the peace and welfare of future generations. Accordingly, the fifteen-member Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, including former UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali, was formed. The committee received recommendations for 182 candidates from 66 nations through sending recommendation requests to 1,200 well-known persons from each nation, global academic organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They evaluated them during the one-year period, and finally selected the two co-recipients of the award. Chairman Il-Shik Hong of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee revealed, “I am happy to have selected as the first co-recipients Kiribati President Anote Tong and Dr. Modadugu Gupta, who have dedicated their lives for the sake of protecting the peace of the future. The Sunhak Peace Prize will continue to recognize these kinds of future peace-oriented role models, and thus become a prize that can help create peace for the global community in the future.” The Sunhak Peace Prize has a monetary prize of one million U.S. dollars, making it the humanitarian award with the world’s highest accompanying monetary prize. The award ceremony will be held on August 28 at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul.