This is a repost from the EAAFP e-Newsletter No. 54 (March 2019).
In loving memory of Dr. Lew Young
With the sudden and untimely passing of Dr. Lew Young, our Chief Executive, on 5th March, 2019, Asia’s wetlands lost a passionate champion and the conservation community lost a dedicated colleague and genuine friend. Lew was generous with his time, his advice and his support to anyone who cared about saving wetlands. His advice was so valued because he knew what it took to manage a wetland, for all its diverse benefits, for building a strong constituency for wetland conservation at all levels and for bringing together people of diverse skills and backgrounds in partnerships for site management. His passion was for involving local communities, helping them to explore opportunities to use wetlands in a sustainable and beneficial way and then passing these experiences on to others, through education and exchange.
In 1991, he started work for WWF as manager of Hong Kong Mai Po Nature Reserve. He developed a strategic vision for the reserve through the development and implementation of habitat and infrastructure management initiatives. He also developed and ran a range of education and awareness programmes for students and public visitors. Mai Po Nature Reserve has become a model site for migratory waterbird conservation along the Flyway, due in no small part to Lew’s work as reserve manager, supervising 20 staff in different aspects of reserve management, education and outreach, and partnership building.
Lew then joined the Ramsar Secretariat in 2008 as a senior regional advisor for Asia and Oceania. For ten years Lew was advising on and supporting the strategic development and effective implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Lew’s work for the Ramsar Secretariat provided support and advice to the 33 contracting parties in Asia and eight in Oceania.
The professional and personal network that Lew established in Asia while at Ramsar held him in good stead as he undertook his last post as Chief Executive of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) which fosters international collaboration to protect migratory waterbirds, their habitats and livelihoods of people dependent upon them. With his leadership and expertise, he quickly assumed the role of communicating and coordinating many projects and programs with the 37 official Partners from government and non-government organizations, as well as collaborators and stakeholders. During his term, the 10th Meeting of Partners was successfully organized in China, developed a new Strategic Plan for the next ten years, and DPR Korea also joined both the Ramsar Convention and Partnership. His last mission for EAAFP was to help bring together the different countries and partners to save the intertidal wetlands of the Yellow Sea, a critically important staging area for millions of migratory waterbirds.
Lew’s thoughtfulness, his considered opinions, his sage advice won him many admirers, but more than that his evident passion was an inspiration to many people, a mentor to others and a friend to many more. He will be missed indeed, but his legacy is assured, in the many wetlands he helped protect and the many colleagues and friends who continue his work.
An online memorial page is available at https://www.forevermissed.com/lewyoung/. Please send your condolences message to Lew’s family at firstname.lastname@example.org.