ISSAAS MATSUSHIDA AWARD
Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid
Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia
Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid has enjoyed a distinguished career in science as a researcher, educator, administrator and diplomat, and currently serves as Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is concurrently Chairman of the following bodies in Malaysia: National Science and Research Council; National Professors Council and the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BIOTECHCORP). He is Joint-Chairman to the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and the Aerospace Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC).
Dr. Zakri’s academic interests lie in genetics, biodiversity and bio-diplomacy. He is a recipient of the Langkawi Award, given to individuals who have made significant contribution in the field of environment and a former Fulbright Scholar. His leadership in genetics and breeding of economically-important species is amply demonstrated when he was Secretary-General of the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Researches in Asia and Oceania from 1981 to 1989.
Fellow scientists have honored him by naming three species after him: a beetle (Paleosephariazakrii); a cicada (Pomponiazakrii) and a nepenthes plant (Nepenthes zakriana). His other contributions to science includes the elucidation of the inheritance of tolerance to the tungro rice virus and pointing out the potential use of genetic diversity in rice improvement through wide hybridization and the improvement of economically-important tropical forest tree species such as Shorea leprosula and Parkia speciosa.
Dr. Zakri has published extensively on issues relating to genetics and plant breeding, as well as biotechnology and biodiversity policies for developing countries. He is also a regular commentator on national science affairs with a featured column in Malaysia’s national New Straits Times newspaper.
Dr. Zakri has extensive experience in science governance at the national and international levels. He was the Founding President of the Genetics Society of Malaysia and was the Chair of the National Taskforce to formulate the 'National Policy on Biological Diversity’ launched by the Government in 1998. From 2001 to 2008, he was the Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the United Nations University in Japan. He co-chaired the UN-sponsored "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment" (2001–2005). He was the Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) for the Convention on Biological Diversity from 1997 to 1999. He was the Co-Chair of the UNEP High-level International Advisory Committee of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law on Environmental Sustainability held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 and a member of the CBD High-level Panel on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Internationally, his legacy is much noted in his Co-Chairing of the mega-study, "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment-2005", an effort recognized by the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. As the Co-Chair of this global undertaking involving some 1,360 scientists from 95 countries, he was instrumental in highlighting the need for the global community to take the necessary measures to alleviate our wanton destruction of ecosystem services if we are to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals. In January 2013, he made history by being elected as the founding Chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) of the United Nations.
In September 2013, he was appointed as a Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim, Malaysia and in October 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.