Summary of keynote speech by Malaysia’s chief science advisor

“A giant among men” is how a recent media article described Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, Malaysia’s chief science advisor and founding Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

“His list of achievements is staggering, yet he remains ever so humble and down to earth,” the article says.

Indeed, Dr Zakri has fought tirelessly for environmental issues since starting his career in crop science and plant breeding in the 1970s. He has headed Malaysia’s negotiating team at the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) meetings, co-chaired  the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – a collaboration amongst 2,000 experts that resulted in a seminal review of the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and of actions needed to address these threats, and most recently was elected as the founding chair of a new UN biodiversity panel that is dedicated to curbing an accelerating worldwide loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services.

All the while remaining extremely humble and down to earth.

“I love what I do…It’s exciting to be able to contribute ideas to the global community on behalf of Malaysia. It’s equally interesting being at the very heart of the science-policy nexus where our ideas can help policymakers to carve out better strategies and programmes, especially in areas concerning biodiversity and ecosystem services,” he said.