Ladies and Gentlemen, Peace Be Upon You, السلام عليكم
I am truly honored to be chosen by you as a worthy recipient of this prestigious award, but I can not possibly accept it as mine. It was the Marsh Arabs who first breached the dykes, which helped resurrect the marshlands and ignite my imagination for what is possible in a free Iraq.
From the day Saddam fell, and with Iraq slowly rising out of the ashes of destruction, my team, the team of Nature Iraq, comprised of remarkably talented and passionate individuals, who despite risks to their own personal safety, have fought to protect the beauty and the splendor of the marshes and their headwaters in the mountains of Kurdistan. With patience and a sense of humor, my team at Nature Iraq have worked in an incredibly difficult situation to accomplish what some experts called impossible before the fall of Saddam.
On their behalf, and in recognition of these future leaders of environmental activists, i accept and celebrate your award.
Lastly, I want to recognize the cornerstone to whatever small part I have played. I want to tell my two young daughters, Norah and Hannah, that your love, support, and understanding gave me the strength to follow my passion and convictions. No amount of award or recognition will ever replace the missed birthdays, proms, or spelling bee wins. I know that while I am receiving the accolades, it is really you who have paid for your father's absence. But I hope that one day you gain some measure of understanding as you begin to make your own sacrifices in pursuits of your passion.
To the Goldman family and the Goldman Prize staff, thank you for this honor and responsibility.