In 2000 Emilio Kifuri surprised me with the good
news that he wanted to fund worthy pioneers of ecotourism in
It took us nine months of discussion with various
colleagues (some web-savvy, some ecotourism-savvy, some Mexico-savvy)
to work-out the selection criteria and judging parameters for
the Colibri Ecotourism
The Colibri was timed to celebrate World Environment
Day with colleagues at the United
Nations Environment Programme.
The selection process needed to be as simple as possible. There
would be no application. Instead I would seek advice and confirmation
from trusted friends and colleagues. In terms of financial matters,
we agreed that 100% of the prize money would be transfered directly
from the sponsor to the winner.
The first recipients were Juan
Carlos Ibarra and Antonio Suárez, consultants and community
activists who had often disagreed with Emilio during the online
ecotourism conference. This was my initial test of the award
process. Would I have freedom and discretion to choose? The
answer was yes.
In 2002 Marlene
Ehrenberg won the award for her excellent work as a guide.
2003's winner was Fernando
Garcia Aguinaco, a journalist and photographer.
In 2004 we did something different -- present two awards! The
winner of the fourth annual 2004 Colibri Award is Jorge
Chávez de la Peña, who developed Mexico's
first university-level ecotourism program. The winner of the
first Colibri Lifetime Achievement Award is Hector
Ceballos-Lascurain, who coined the word ecotourism.
Hector Ceballos-Lascurain: "In 2004, I had the great pleasure
and honor of being the recipient of the first Colibri International
Ecotourism Lifetime Achievement Award from Planeta.com and Canyon
Travel. This was the first public recognition in Mexico of my
work in the fields of ecotourism and ecolodge development (confirming
once more that ancient proverb 'nobody is a prophet in his own
land'), so this was very satisfactory."
In 2005 we presented the fifth annual Colibri
Ecotourism Award to Jennifer
Morfín Morgan for her work in making high tech tools
useful for those developing ecotourism.
The 2006 award was presented to Steve
Bridger for his work developing the timely afterwilma.info
website which provided unprecedented coverage of recovery efforts
in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.
The 2007 award was presented to Francisco
Verástegui, who created Mexico's first city map of
notable and historic trees.
The 2008 award was presented to Gerhard
Buttner, who has trained guides and artisans in the Yucatán
The 2009 Colibri Ecotourism Award was presented to ...
From 2001-2009 the winner received a trophy, diploma
and a cash award of $1,000 from Emilio Kifuri, president of
From 2007-2009 the award has a co-sponsor, Destination
Ventures, which contributed another $1,000 directly to Planeta.com
for development of spin-off media focusing on the winners.