Press releases

Thursday 01 Feb 2007

Putting Globalization on More ‘Intelligent’ Path Unites UNEP’s 2007 Champions of the Earth

Nairobi, 1 February 2007- The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today the seven leaders who are to be honoured as Champions of the Earth 2007.

Award winners announced on Eve of Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum


Nairobi, 1 February 2007 - - Seven leaders whose achievements range from chemical safety, sustainable waste management and the greening of sporting events to the conservation of deserts, rainforests and the global climate are to be honoured as Champions of the Earth 2007, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

The winners, who will be presented with their awards at a special ceremony in Singapore on 19 April, were named as:

• His Excellency Mr. Cherif Rahmani for advancing environmental law in Algeria and for his role in leading the Year for Deserts and Desertification.

• Elisea ‘Bebet’ Gillera Gozun for pushing forward the environmental agenda in her native Philippines by winning the trust of business leaders, non-governmental organizations and political decision-makers alike;

• Viveka Bohn of Sweden for playing a prominent role in multilateral negotiations and her leadership in global efforts to ensure chemical safety;

• Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil for her tireless fight to protect the Amazon rainforest while taking into account the perspectives of people who use the resources in their daily lives;

• Al Gore of the United States for making environmental protection a pillar of his public service and for educating the world on the dangers posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions;

• His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan for his belief in transboundary collaboration to protect the environment and for addressing environmental issues in a holistic manner;

• Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for advancing the sport and environment agenda by providing greater resources to sustainable development and for introducing stringent environmental requirements for cities bidding to host Olympic Games.

News of the winners comes in advance of UNEP’s annual gathering of environment ministers taking place next week at the organization’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The risks and opportunities of globalization, in relation to environmental issues, will be high on the agenda of the conference.

Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: ”Steering globalization onto a more intelligent and sustainable trajectory requires the commitment of governments, the private sector, local authorities and civil society—but it also needs individuals capable of catalizing change, empowering others and inspiring action”.

“The men and women we are recognizing today are indeed role models who have committed themselves to realizing a more just, equitable and sustainable world. Proof, if proof is needed, that globalization can be sustainably managed if we harness the intelligence, energy and vision so self evident in these Champions of the Earth 2007,” he added.

The awards, presented for the third time, recognize prominent and inspirational environmental leaders from each region of the world.  Through leadership, vision and creativity, each Champion has made an impact at the policy level.

The winners will be honoured at a gala event hosted by UNEP, the Singapore Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), with the support of various sponsors and partners including Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL).

On 19 and 20 April 2007, UNEP and the United Nations Global Compact will co-host the inaugural “Global Business Summit for the Environment” (B4E) in Singapore. 

Linked with the UNEP Champions of the Earth award event, the Summit will seek to showcase visionary leadership in corporate environmental responsibility.

Notes to Editors on the Winners

AFRICA
H. E. Mr. Cherif Rahmani - Algeria

H. E. Mr. Cherif Rahmani’s career has been guided by a profound commitment to the protection of our planet.  As a Minister, he has worked tirelessly to greatly advance environmental law in Algeria.  Under his guidance, new specialized institutions have been established with the aim of creating and implementing an environmental policy, which is at the service of sustainable development.

He has also established model financial and economic instruments aimed at promoting a tax system in Algeria based on international criteria that adhere to the polluter pays principle.  He has brought a fundamental contribution to the implementation of the National Action Plan for Environment and Sustainable Development.   This approach, adopted by the Algerian Government, is based on four major objectives:  improving the health and quality of life; improving the productivity of natural capital; reducing economic losses and improving competitiveness; and improving the global environment (e.g. reducing greenhouse gases and impacts of climate change).

Mr. Rahmani has made significant contributions in his capacity as President of the Foundation ‘Deserts du Monde’ and as Honorary Spokesperson of the United Nations International Year of Deserts and Desertification.  For example, he led the creation of the Institute of Deserts and the Museum of Deserts, the rehabilitation of Fort de Tinerkouk, the International Conference on the Biodiversity of Deserts (Brazil), the International Conference on Women and Desertification (Italy), the Second International Symposium on Desertification and Migration (Spain) and the International Scientific  Conference on Deserts and Desertification (Tunisia), as well as the organization of the Third Festival of Cultures and Civilizations of the People of the Deserts.

Contact: Ms. Lylia Harchaoui, E-mail: l.harchaoui@yahoo.fr; Mobile: 00.213(0)71.85.62.87; Tel/fax: 00.213(0)21.43.28.32;

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Elisea “Bebet” Gillera Gozun - Philippines

Mrs. Elisea “Bebet” Gillera Gozun’s commitment to public service and her passion for the environment has given her the energy to overcome obstacles, persuade disbelievers and shape alliances.

Her leadership in World Bank projects resulted in tangible results such as the introduction of pollution charges for industrial effluents in the Philippines, the establishment of the ECOWATCH programme – an innovative public disclosure programme of environmental performance of priority industries – and the "Brown Fund"- the first tripartite funding source for local urban environmental initiatives, jointly managed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business and government.

Mrs. Gozun recognized that without the local communities, the private sector and local governments on board led by mayors, no national policy could succeed.   She has pushed for the introduction of community-based waste recovery, recycling and reuse in the Philippines and has also worked for the establishment of materials recovery facilities and on upgrading the quality and capacity of landfills for the residual wastes.   To implement the pilot schemes in environmental management, she has attracted international funding and mobilized local resources.  As a result, today there is a wide network of participating communities, with dramatically improved health situations due to better solid waste management.  

Her personal integrity, combined with a keen pragmatic sense for what is politically feasible to constitute a viable solution, have won her the trust of business leaders, NGOs and political decision-makers alike.

Contact: Ms. Elisea “Bebet” Gillera Gozun, E-mail: bggozun@hotmail.com; Mobile: 63-917 530 5854; Tel: (632) 941-7233,

EUROPE
Viveka Bohn - Sweden

Ms. Viveka Bohn has played a prominent role in multilateral negotiations, including environmental treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).  Her leadership has been especially evident in global efforts to ensure chemical safety, which has been increasingly recognized as a key crosscutting issue in the pursuit of sustainable development.

She is also being recognized for her work on chemicals with the adoption of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) by the international community. This important new global policy framework will catalyse and guide efforts to achieve the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goal of sound management of chemicals by 2020. As President of the Preparatory Committee for the Development of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management,
she was central to this body’s evolution and was instrumental in its finalization at the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in Dubai in February 2006.

As head of the Swedish project secretariat for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Ms. Bohn worked tirelessly on issues related to sustainable consumption and production, and the fruits of her labour were recognized when she was elected co-chair of the Marrakech process.

Contact: Mr Per Thege, E-mail: per.thege@environment.ministry.se; Mobile: + 46 (0)70 605 60 36

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
H. E. Ms. Marina Silva – Brazil

H. E. Ms. Marina Silva has been a tireless fighter for the protection of the Amazon rainforest.  Her work has championed conservation while taking into account the perspectives of people who use the resources in their daily lives.  In this respect, she is a champion of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which promotes conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity.

Ms. Silva has recognised that, in protecting the environment, building a coalition of support demands adherence to a core set of values.  Her belief that the success of the fight to save life on Earth demands that principles are at the forefront of our efforts has made her a deserving recipient of the 2007 Champions of the Earth award.

As a member of Brazil’s senate, she has successfully legislated rainforest preservation, defended her people against poverty and protected their way of life. As the Brazilian Minister of the Environment since 2003, her contribution to preserving the biologically diverse, complex and rich Brazilian Amazon is remarkable, with deforestation estimated to have decreased by more than 50 per cent in the last two years – a result undoubtedly linked to a new government process implemented by her and fundamentally based on the idea of a cross-cutting approach to environmental issues in all governmental and non-governmental sectors.

Contact: Mr. Fernando Lyrio, E-mail: fernando.lyrio@mma.gov.br; Tel: (55-61) 4009 1416/1003

NORTH AMERICA
Al Gore – United States of America

During Al Gore’s 16-year career in the U.S. Congress and his eight-year term as Vice-President, he has made protecting the environment a pillar of his public service. He led Congressional efforts to clean up toxic dumps leading to the formation of the Superfund and held the first hearing on global climate change.  In conjunction with his numerous trips around the world to visit those habitats most threatened by human intervention and climate change, he worked to educate fellow members of Congress and the American public on the dangers posed by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as well political inaction in the face of a growing environmental crisis. 

Mr. Gore and President William Clinton expended great efforts to protect habitat across the United States and expand terrestrial and aquatic national parks and wildlife refuges.  He also helped in the negotiating and drafting of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.

Since the conclusion of his public service he has continued his committed efforts on behalf of the environment.  His critically-acclaimed documentary An Inconvenient Truth – based on his presentation on climate change and which he has shown more than 1,000 times across the world – has become the third-highest grossing documentary in the history of the United States.  Mr. Gore continues to incorporate his passion for the environment into his professional career, where he serves as Chairman of an investment management firm whose strategy incorporates sustainability in its investment research. 

Throughout his 30-year career, as a politician, author, statesman and entrepreneur, he has made, and continues to make, critical contributions to the protection of the environment.

Contact: Ms. Stacy Schumaker, E-mail: stacy@carthagegroup.com

WEST ASIA
HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal - Jordan

To sustain natural resources for future generations, HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal has addressed environmental issues in a holistic manner.  In particular, his belief in transboundary collaboration to protect the environment merits global recognition.

HRH has initiated, founded and has been actively involved in a number of Jordanian and international environmental institutions.   As President of Jordan’s Higher Council for Science and Technology (HCST), he has emphasized the need for relevant and improved environmental policies, strategies and programmes.  HRH has ensured that HCST focuses on enhancing the quality of life of the inhabitants of dryland areas, empowering them to improve their standard of living using available resources without having to change their traditional way of life.

Also under his leadership, the Royal Scientific Society has been active in the field of environmental management and protection, specifically water quality management.  H. R. H. has supported global partnerships aimed at ensuring sustainable energy use, such as the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation, an organization, which has had a measurable impact on sustainable development and which has pointed the way to clean and equitable energy production by sharing capital and know-how.

Contact: Mr. Habib El-Habr, Director of UNEP Regional Office for West Asia; E-mail: habib.elhabr@unep.org.bh; Tel: (973-17) 812 755

UNEP SPECIAL PRIZE
Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee

As President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr. Jacques Rogge has played an important role in the development of the sport and environment agenda. The changes he has brought to the organization have reinforced the importance of the environment in the work of the Olympic Movement. 

Mr. Rogge has perpetuated a policy that seeks to provide greater resources to sustainable development in and through sport at national, regional and international levels, and particularly at the Olympic Games.  This policy enshrined in The Olympic Charter is an important development as it strives to promote Olympic Games which respect the environment and meet the standards of sustainable development. Furthermore, it aims to promote awareness among and educate the members of the Olympic family and sports practitioners in general of the importance of a healthy environment for sustainable development.

Since taking the helm of the IOC in July 2001, Mr. Rogge has introduced stringent environmental requirements for cities bidding to host Olympic Games.  As a result of these measures, no bid is considered without a comprehensive environmental programme.  He has played an active and personal role in encouraging organizers of Olympic Games (Turin 2006 and Beijing 2008 in particular) to fulfil their environmental pledges and commitments.  Under his Presidency, the Torino Games were widely hailed as the greenest games and considered innovative and a model for future “green” games.

In addition, Mr. Rogge has endorsed the continuation of the IOC biennial World Conference for Sport and Environment and regional seminars for sport and environment.  Under his leadership, the World Conference has become one of the most recognizable events on sport and the environment and continues to draw stakeholders from all sectors of the sporting world to discuss their role and contributions to sustainable development.

Contact: Mrs. Emmanuelle Moreau, Media Relations Manager or Ms. Sandrine Chabert, Media Relations Coordinator, E-mail: pressoffice@olympic.org; Tel: +41-216 216 111; Fax: +41-216 216 356

Additional Notes to Editors
Background on the Champions of the Earth prize and all the laureates, including biographies and photographs, is available from http://www.unep.org/champions/ or from UNEP DCPI at championsoftheearth@unep.org.

The Champions of the Earth award, established in 2004, is presented by UNEP each year to outstanding environmental achievers and leaders. 

No monetary reward is attached to the prize. Each laureate receives a trophy made of recycled metal especially designed by the Kenyan sculptor Kioko.  The trophy represents the fundamental elements for life on Earth – sun, air, land and water.

UNEP invites nominations from individuals who have made a significant and recognized contribution globally, regionally and beyond, to the protection and sustainable management of the Earth’s environment and natural resources.  Candidates are judged by a senior UNEP panel with input from UNEP’s regional offices.

UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum runs from 5 February until 9 February www.unep.org

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 20 762 3084, Mobile: +254 733 632755 or +41 79 596 5737, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org  


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