Georgina Bustamante and Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri awarded with the prestigious Fred Packard Award

Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, the UNEP-CEP SPAW officer and the Caribbean  Marine Protected Area Management (CaMPAM) founder,  and Dr. Georgina Bustamante, the Coordinator of CaMPAM, were both awarded with the prestigious Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award for Outstanding Service in Furthering the Objectives of Protected Areas for Society.

The award is in recognition for their extraordinary dedication to advancing marine protected areas (MPA) across the Caribbean for nearly 20 years and blazing a trail for regional MPA management networks. Their CaMPAM, developed under the framework of UNEP's Caribbean Environment Programme and its SPAW (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) Protocol is the first network of its kind worldwide.

Georgina and Alessandra have tirelessly continued to expand its services across the region. They have arranged courses for training of trainers, exchange visits, the development of project grants, and the first regional MPA database. Through CaMPAM's programme, Georgina and Alessandra have served as the primary catalysts for MPA knowledge exchange and guidance across the Caribbean. They have connected and helped thousands of MPA practitioners across the Caribbean region, empowering them to do their jobs more effectively.

Upon being notified of being a recipient of the Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award, Alessandra has stated:

"This is great news not only for me personally but for SPAW and the Cartagena Convention, the CEP and UNEP  in general. I feel extremely honored for the recognition and humble to be in the company of so many outstanding conservationists who received this award before us. This came as a total surprise to me as I have no idea we had been nominated and by whom. Indeed a very pleasant surprise.

CaMPAM is the product of the dedication and hard work of many people who have supported me with this initiative through the years and this includes many individuals at the RCU (Regional Coordinating Unit) and UNEP, so I share this with all of you and most importantly with the many many managers and rangers of our MPAs who do the hardest work often under very difficult circumstances."

The award was presented in Hawaii at the Protected Planet Pavilion during the World Conservation Congress on the evening of September 3, 2016