Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff was a Georgian aristocrat and a lifelong New Yorker who became an outspoken environmental watchdog. He died last year, and in his memory, theIUCN Caucasus Cooperation Centre, in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Center for Environmental Legal Studies of Pace University School of Law, in New York, USA, have agreed to establish an award honoring leadership in the conservation of nature and natural resources by individuals in Georgia.
The agreement was signed at the World Conservation Congress, and I was happy to be part of the short ceremony, which we did in the presence of the current and the new Chairs of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law.
A prince whose family nobility dates back to the 15th century in what is now the Republic of Georgia, Mr. Sidamon-Eristoff lived in New York and became a true conservationist in and around New York City.
During his career, he was the city’s highway commissioner, head of its Transportation Department, and a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Chair of Audubon New York, the first state office of the National Audubon Society (an IUCN Member), which led the way for other state offices.
From 1989 to 1993, Mr. Sidamon-Eristoff headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s New York region. In this role, he argued that the city should compensate upstate communities for limiting development that was endangering the city’s reservoirs, thus being one of the first to promote the concept of “Payment for Ecosystem Services”, and an early advocate of the IUCN concept of “Nature-based solutions”.
I am proud to help to keep his memory alive.