Prof. Shuming Cai, from the Chinese Academy of Science, is being recognized for his research studies on the Yangtze River, as well as for his in-depth research on the effects of the Three-Gorges dam project on the environment, and the assessment and mitigation of natural disasters (e.g. flood and water logging in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River).
When asked about the importance of the Yangtze River, Prof. Cai replies that "the [Yangtze] River is the most important water resource of China and its runoff accounts for 35% of the whole water amount in China". Since the 1960s, Prof. Cai has been mainly engaged on the study of limnology in the Yangtze River valley, wetlands ecology, use and conservation of natural resources and the overall development of regional agriculture. A respected figure and twice a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), Prof. Cai has used his scientific achievements to reach practical results for wetland conservation, defending the idea that "wetlands are closely linked to human survival and development".
Prof. Cai also stresses the importance of wetlands for sustainable economic development and human well-being, especially in their function as the "kidneys of nature".
With more than 120 publications, Prof. Cai's work has provided a basis for the formulation of laws, regulations and management policies in China, as well as contributing to international projects with Japan, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.