Nairobi, August 2 2012 - The United Nations Environment Programme today announced the winners of the World Environment Day (WED) Challenge 2012, naming five exciting and innovative projects that helped raise environmental awareness across the globe.
For this year's WED - the single biggest day for positive action on the environment worldwide - people across the world were challenged to pledge an environmental activity for the chance to win a Kia Motors fuel-efficient car.
UNEP's goodwill ambassadors - supermodel and activist Gisele Bündchen, Hollywood actor Don Cheadle and Chinese actor and activist Li Bingbing - all recorded video messages encouraging people to register their projects.
"Today we celebrate five inspiring projects, submitted for the World Environment Day 2012 challenge, that illuminate the pathway to a transition to a Green Economy," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"The most environmentally friendly travel is by train, bus, carpooling, cycle or on foot, but in some countries making an eco-friendly project happen may need a private vehicle. If so, it should be fuel-efficient," he added. "This is why we are awarding such vehicles to these projects, most of which are run in developing nations with underdeveloped public transport networks."
The response to the challenge was strong, and after much deliberation UNEP is pleased to announce the following winners from a raft of inspiring activities:
- Fundacion Ecoprogreso - Cartagena, Colombia
Category: Best Delivers Effective and Substantive Impact
This group to protect a mangrove lagoon surrounding the city of Cartagena, and has organize events such as a rally for students from the Colegio Manzanillo del Mar, in one of the communities that live adjacent to the lagoon. The WED activities were aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the mangrove ecosystem for the local green economy, especially for ecotourism and sustainable fishing.
- Maji Mazuri Centre International - Nairobi, Kenya
Category: Best Delivers Effective and Substantive Impact
Maji Mazuri (Good Water in Swahili) runs an initiative called Green Heroes, in which motivated and dedicated youth focus on organizing and improving waste management in Nairobi's informal Mathare settlement. They invest their efforts into sensitizing and educating the community through regular garbage clean-up events and other activities. On WED, the group organized a communal clean-up day, a discussion on the Green Economy and a football match that galvanized over 2,000 people.
- Sunshine Coast Environment Council - Sunshine Coast, Australia
Category: Biggest Activity Mobilization
The Sunshine Coast World Environment Day Festival is an annual festival held to celebrate WED, with the objective of raising awareness of environmental issues and the unique flora and fauna of the Sunshine Coast region and promoting the adoption of sustainable lifestyles and technologies. The festival is organized by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), Sunshine Coast Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast. First organized, in 1980 the festival is one of the Sunshine Coast's longest-running events and has grown into one of the region's largest annual events - attracting well over 7,000 visitors each year.
- Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha - Dhaka, Bangladesh
Category: Best Supports WED Theme ? Green Economy: Does It Include You?
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a non-profit organization, celebrated WED through a solar-powered boat rally, a drawing competition on floating schools, and essay-writing competition on floating libraries, an exhibition on a two-tier boat and evening shows of training boats under the theme, 'The Green Economy in a Changing Climate - Hope Floats'. The boat rally - a display of homemade boats, solar power and the WED theme - was organized on the theme of Floating Future. Over 15,000 people participated in the various exhibitions and activities.
- Hand in Hand India - Chennai (Madras), India
Category: Most Creative, Unique and Fun
Hand in Hand India is a development organisation that works to alleviate poverty through enterprise creation and a unique integrated community-development approach. Key environmental interventions include solid waste management, natural resource management and environmental advocacy. For WED, Hand in Hand brought together around 570 volunteers to create a colourful Rangoli carpet based on environmental themes. Rangoli is a hand-drawn Indian art which adorns the courtyards of many houses. This traditional art form is considered auspicious and is an eye-catching regular event during festivals. The 10,000 sq.ft Rangoli depicted ten environmental themes and aimed to encourage and create environment awareness.
About World Environment Day
WED aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place year round but climax on June 5. WED celebrations began in 1972 and have grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.
Through WED, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
In 2010, the dynamic WED challenge asked people to name baby gorillas in Rwanda to raise awareness, and in 2011 celebrities were asked to go head-to-head in a battle to have their supporters carry out the most activities, with the winner then planting a forest. Gisele Bündchen beat Don Cheadle, helping drive 4,229 WED activities in 144 countries - ranging from a bicycle rally in Nepal to a public litter clean-up in the Republic of Congo, and an environmental street procession by young people in Albania. Other celebrities such as Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder and Bollywood regulars Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose have promoted the event over the last few years.
Visit the WED site here: http://www.unep.org/wed/
For more information, please contact:
Lucita Jasmin, Head of Special Events
Telephone: +254 20 7623401