Dr. Karen Eckert, founder and executive director of WIDECAST, and Principia College professor of sustainability and director of the Principia Center for Sustainability, is one of six finalists for the Indianapolis Prize. The Indianapolis Prize is the world’s leading conservation award—widely known as the “Nobel Prize of Conservation.”
This prestigious award is recognition of Dr. Eckert’s lifetime of innovation and service in the conservation of migratory sea turtles and their critical habitats. Thirty-five years ago, Dr. Eckert created WIDECAST, a Regional Activity Network of the UN Environment Programme in the Wider Caribbean Region. WIDECAST provides a structure for dialogue and collaboration across 45 countries and territories to train biologists, policymakers, educators, and advocates and to harmonize national approaches to reducing the many threats that sea turtles face in the region.
“WIDECAST has uniquely changed the world in palpable ways, and set the example for making change at scale,” states Dr. Eckert. “Bringing science into intergovernmental decision-making is completely new.”
Over the decades, she has formed dozens of community-based organizations, written legislation and policy, developed micro-enterprises to help support communities that once relied on killing the highly endangered turtles, and empowered national and regional representatives to write sea turtle recovery plans. It is because of Karen’s leadership of the WIDECAST network that we still have ancient lineages of sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea.
This year’s six finalists were selected from 100 nominees from around the world. This is Dr. Eckert’s third nomination for the prestigious prize, which is awarded biannually.
“This year’s Finalists are impressive not only in their dedication to saving species, but also in their huge determination to achieve an impact despite the pandemic and global conflicts. Their commitment is both admirable and inspiring," said 2021 Indianapolis Prize Winner and 2023 Indianapolis Prize Jury Member Dr. Amanda Vincent in a statement from the Indianapolis Zoological Society Inc.
The winner of the Indianapolis Prize will be announced in May 2024.