AWI Honors Environmental Pioneer Jennifer Lonsdale with Schweitzer Medal

DJ, Schubert, Jennifer Lonsdale and Andrej Bibič.
Photo by EIA

Washington, DC—Jennifer Lonsdale OBE, who cofounded the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and has dedicated more than three decades to protecting the world’s oceans from environmental crimes and abuses, has received the prestigious Schweitzer Medal from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).

AWI presented the medal to Lonsdale on Oct. 18 during the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Slovenia. The award, established in 1951 by AWI, recognizes outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare.

I am quite overwhelmed to be awarded this medal and thank the Animal Welfare Institute for choosing me,” said Lonsdale, who is retiring from EIA this year. “It is particularly precious to me because founder of AWI Christine Stevens was a mentor to me for many years. “She was a champion for animals all her life and never shied away from making her voice loudly heard on animal welfare abuse.”

Lonsdale formed EIA in 1984 with fellow conservationists Allan Thornton and Dave Currey. In 2016, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her environmental advocacy.

Born and raised in Uganda, Lonsdale moved with her family to Kent, England, in 1963. She began volunteering for Greenpeace San Francisco in 1977 and helped develop the current Greenpeace International structure. In the early 1980s, she, Thornton and Currey set sail on an old North Sea trawler to obtain the first-ever documentation of the Norwegian minke whale hunt, garnering international attention. The following year, Lonsdale and Currey traveled to the Faroe Islands to investigate the Faroese pilot whale hunt.

While serving as a director and oceans campaigner at EIA, Lonsdale advocated effective protection for whales, dolphins and porpoises—ensuring that their welfare became a core focus of the IWC—and focused on threats to the marine environment and biodiversity, such as climate change, pollution and wildlife entanglement in fishing gear. During that time, EIA developed innovative and effective investigative methods to defend the environment, along with implementing long-term solutions.

Jenny’s three decades at EIA have focused almost exclusively on cetaceans, their conservation and their welfare, and she has built a remarkable depth of expertise and wisdom,” said DJ Schubert, wildlife biologist for AWI. “She has served as a longstanding chair of the UK’s NGO coalition working on cetacean issues and many times on the UK delegation to the IWC. I can say from personal experience, and I know my NGO and government colleagues would agree, Jenny is a joy to work with—measured, knowledgeable, generous with her time, always willing to pitch in and always ready to speak her mind, but never seeking to be the center of attention.”

Schubert continued: “She has been a rock, a role model and mentor, as well as a friend, for so many of us over the years.”

About the Schweitzer Medal
Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a famed scientist and humanitarian internationally known for his philosophy focused on the value of all living things. In 1951, he gave permission to the Animal Welfare Institute to strike a medal in his honor, to be awarded to individuals in recognition of their exemplary efforts to improve the lives of animals. In December 1953, a gold replica of the medal was presented to Dr. Schweitzer by Dr. Charles Joy in Oslo, Norway, where Dr. Schweitzer had gone to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. For over 60 years, the Schweitzer Medal has been a symbol of outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare.

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.