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Ube city of Japan receives UN environment award

Nairobi, 28 May 1997 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that Ube City of Japan has been elected to the prestigious ranks of its Global 500 Roll of Honour for its outstanding contributions to the protection of the environment.

Ube is an industrial city of 175,000 and home to a century old coal mine which closed in 1967. Since the 1940s coal, cement and chemical factories have been a significant source of pollution in the area. Ube City established a committee, comprising university professors, industrial leaders, citizens and city officials, to clean the polluted air. The Committee decided to have industry install dust control equipment and to have the City and citizens purchase water sprays for road cleaning, and to promote the planting of greenery and flowers as part of a post second world war recovery plan.

Today, Ube City is considered a leader in the scientific approach to air pollution control using epidemiology, pollution monitoring, engineering, operation, management and investment by industry and information and education by mass media.

The area's comprehensive pollution control plan started in 1976 with a series of mid-term plans which included the installation of a sewerage system, a night soil treatment plant and urban incineration plants. A recycling centre with classes for consumers recently begun operation, and automatic, mobile and manual monitoring systems for air, water and noise were installed to verify compliance with quality standards.

About 50 volunteers monitor odours from surrounding chemical plants. The airport plan was adjusted based on the advice of the City Environment Council, and in 1971 a joint emergency task force was established by the City's fire department and industry to cope with plant accidents and oil spills.

"In this its 25th anniversary year and the tenth anniversary of the Global 500 Roll of Honour, UNEP is proud to recognize the achievements of these exceptional individuals and organizations", says UNEP's Executive Director, Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

"In honouring them, UNEP hopes that their examples will inspire and guide many other men, women and young people to join the global coalition dedicated to protecting the environment", adds Ms. Dowdeswell.

The award will be presented in Seoul, Republic of Korea at the World Environment Day ceremonies on 5 June 1997. This day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to focus global attention and action on environmental issues.

Some 654 individuals and organizations, in both the adult and youth categories, have been honoured since UNEP launched the Global 500 award in 1987. Among prominent past winners are: French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau; Sir David Attenborough, producer of environmental television programmes; Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway; Anil Aggarwal, the prominent environmentalist from India; Ken Saro-Wiwa, the environmental and human rights activist from Nigeria who was executed for leading the resistance of the Ogoni People against the pollution of their Delta homeland; the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States; and the late Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubber tapper who was murdered during his fight to save the Amazon forest.

To forge global links and to implement ideas which can contribute to a more sustainable future, a network of all Global 500 laureates has been formed.

Ube City
7-1, 1 Chome Tokiwa-cho
Ube City
Yamaguchi Prefecture 755
Fax: (81) 836 22 0686

For further information, please contact For more information:

Tore J. Brevik
Chief, Information & Public Affairs
UNEP Headquarters
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-62-3292
Fax: 254-2-62-3927

Patricia L. Jacobs
Information Officer
UNEP Headquarters
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-62-3088
Fax: 254-2-62-3692

UNEP News Release 1997/43

Thursday 29 May 1997
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