Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On the 1st of August, while the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announced that I am the awardee for Peace and International Understanding, I was in Changbai Mountain Reserve with the Green Camp for College Students. Green Camp was launched in 1996 by Marcia B. Marks, my deceased wife, and me. This is our twelfth year. Forty students from thirty-six universities and four teachers from Taiwan were there. This important and delightful news cheered everyone. In the forest, under the moonlight and amidst joyous singing, they stood in a circle and hugged me one by one, some wishing me good health, some saying: "Teacher Tang, I shall do my best!"
Therefore, I feel that this honor is not for me alone. It is also for China's younger generation who are pursuing nature conservation. It is also for people who are working selflessly on environmental issues. Indeed, they have done much more and much better than I.
China is a unique country. It has a vast population and it still lacks awareness of environmental protection. Eighteen years ago when I was visiting Europe and America, I said: "Without democracy, there can be no everlasting green hills and clear waters." I believe everyone can understand what I mean. Environmental protection is a monumental task. We cannot rely solely on the power of the government, on the economy or legislation. It is imperative that everyone is concerned and involved in ensuring that our environment stays green forever, and our planet remains sustainable. Thus, I am doing my utmost to write books and articles, to ensure the Green Camp's mission is successful every year, and to travel all over China to give lectures and raise awareness about green culture.
I am Chinese and Marcia was American; love of nature brought us together. We traveled China together and visited fifty national parks and wildlife reserves in Europe, North America, and Asia. Together we wrote A Green World Tour. This book looks at the world from China's perspective; at the same time, it looks at China from the whole world's perspective. It seeks to share international experiences in environmental protection, and promote understanding and friendship among the world's peoples. It had a profound impact on the development of environmental protection in China. Some people say Marcia and I were a beautiful union of east-west culture. Marcia used to say these simple yet true words: "All those who love nature are good people." Just think: if everyone loves nature, pursues the beauty and spirit of nature, then, we will be able to find our rightful place in this great, mysterious, wonderful and living world of nature. Man and nature will be in harmony. How can there still be indifference, selfishness, jealousy, deception, hate, terror and war amongst men?
Today, as I stand here to receive this award, I first would like to thank the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for its support and encouragement. Special thanks to Mother Nature and my wife Marcia; they helped me rise from difficulties and confusion to become a dedicated nature conservationist. Last but not least, I would like to thank my family for supporting my cause, my friends, my colleagues and the readers of my books, whom I never met but have been a source of encouragement to me. China's road to conservation of nature and environment is long and tortuous but I will continue my work resolutely.