The award for Freedom from Want goes to Belgian conservationist Emmanuel de Merode on behalf of the Virunga Alliance for theirtireless and dedicated efforts to protect the exceptional flora and fauna of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as to protect the local communities that live near Virunga's boundary. A dangerous job because of the intensity of the conflict in and around the park, due to the 10 year civil war and M23 rebellion.
Since 2008 Emmanuel de Merode has led a team of 360 Congolese rangers in an effort to de-militarize the national park, re-establish the rule of law, initiate local development and bring a significant funding through social media, local enterprise and tourism development. In 2013 Emmanuel de Merode assisted in the launching of the Virunga Alliance, that aims to foster peace and prosperity through the responsible economic development of natural resources for the four million people who live near the park’s borders. A percentage of the park’s revenues is invested in community development projects. The work of the Alliance also includes the promotion of sustainable energy for poor households and support for the building of schools.
Despite a life-threatening attack, Emmanuel de Merode continues his commendable work in and around Virunga National Park together with the team of the Virunga Alliance.