BOOK REVIEW: PORTRAIT OF THE AMAZING LIFE OF AN OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST – WOLFGANG E. BURHENNE

Vivienne Klimke: A SUSTAINABLE LIFE – Wolfgang E. Burhenne and the development of environmental law. With a foreword by Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

Vol13_6_art12aWolfgang Burhenne was born in 1924 into a traditional hunter’s family, and grew up hunting. He was and is an avid hunter, especially dedicated to chamois and his beloved Tyrolean Mountains. This passion motivated him to devote an enormous part of time to the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation CIC. He still remains involved in the hunting community as Honorary Legal Counsel of the CIC and makes regular appearances at the CIC General Assemblies.

Wolfgang Burhenne embarked on a professional career that was profoundly influenced by this deep love for hunting, nature and wildlife, but also by his experiences of dictatorship and injustice.

Aged 17 years he became a soldier in World War II. After being wounded, he was transferred to a military hospital at Dachau, where he got in touch with concentration camp prisoners. He started participating in the armed resistance against the Nazi regime, which resulted in his imprisonment in 1941. His survival of years of incarceration and a spectacular escape at the end of the war are amazing.

Vol13_6_art12bIn the years after the war Wolfgang Burhenne entered parliamentary work. He also engaged in nature protection on the national and international level. Over the next decades, he became one of the motors of international environmental law. International instruments such as the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature, the World Charter for Nature, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and others are rooted in his ideas, engagement and professional input. No two people have done more to strengthen the position of environmental law in environmental management than Wolfgang Burhenne and his Belgian wife for over forty years, Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin. The couple’s first venture together was helping the Organization of African Unity (OAU) establish the Algiers Conservation Convention in 1968. Wolfgang Burhenne was one of 12 signatories to the Morges Manifesto, which established the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1961. The insights and skills of the Burhennes were essential to the creation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973, the World Charter for Nature, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1985.

Vivienne Klimke’s reveals that Wolfgang Burhenne was involved at his professional field with all his heart and soul. This book recounts the unique life of an extraordinary man, who helped shape the structure of the world’s environmental organizations with passion and talent. Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNEP said that “Wolfgang Burhenne’s dedication, wisdom, ingenuity and forcefulness have inspired generations of professionals in the field of environment and today’s body of international environmental law bears testimony to the leadership and vision he brought to our community.”

Vivienne Klimke: A SUSTAINABLE LIFE – Wolfgang E. Burhenne and the development of environmental law. 288 pages, incl. many black-and-white photographs, softcover, format 17 x 24.5 cm. ISBN 978-3-00-045990-0. Price 34.00 € incl. tax, fees and shipping. Contact for orders: www.artemis-pr.de email: vivienne.klimke@t-online.de

Author: Gerhard R. Damm