Remarks by Mr. Klaus Toepfer Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme on the presentation of a Special UNEP Prize to H.E. Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan at the 20th anniversary celebration of the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize
Diao Yu Tai State Guest House, Beijing, People’s Republic of China
(Monday 27 September 2004)
Check against delivery
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure on this occasion of the 20th anniversary of the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize to present a Special UNEP Prize to His Excellency Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan, in honour of his lifetime commitment and global achievements in the field of the environment.
His contribution to the protection of the environment, which spans more than three decades, is indeed exemplary.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Hashimoto was closely involved in the establishment of Japan’s Environment Agency.
His early commitment to the environment is also demonstrated by a pollution control bill he submitted to parliament during that period.
As Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hashimoto succeeded in obtaining the support of China in environmental cooperation between the two countries.
This cooperation was based on two important pillars: a model for environment and development in cities, and the enhancement of a network dealing with environmental issues.
It is therefore most fitting that Mr. Hashimoto is being presented with this Special UNEP Prize here in Beijing.
Mr. Hashimoto’s continued commitment to sustainable development of the environment is demonstrated by his recent involvement in water issues — as chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Third World Water Forum and chairperson of the United Nations Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.
The importance of water and sanitation issues to sustainable development cannot be overstated.
In the 1960s we had a Green Revolution that helped transform the health and livelihoods of billions of people.
I believe it is now time for a Blue Revolution to improve the global management and conservation of our precious and threatened water resources before it is too late.
We are all grateful for Mr. Hashimoto’s guiding influence on these two important bodies.
It is, therefore, my honour to pay tribute to Mr. Hashimoto by presenting him with a Special UNEP Prize for environmental achievement.
I would be grateful, Mr. Hashimoto, if you would step up to receive your prize.