2007 UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Make Big Splash at Gala Ceremony in Singapore
Inspirational Winners from Algeria, Brazil and Jordan to the Philippines, Sweden and the United States Lauded for "Extraordinary" Leadership in Environment and Sustainable Development
Singapore, 19 April 2007 - Hollywood star and environmental campaigner, Daryl Hannah was among the high and the humble in Singapore last night to honour the 2007 Champions of the Earth.
Ms Hannah, famous for films like 'Splash' and her support for renewable energies, received the trophy on behalf of Al Gore-the former US Vice President and climate change campaigner was awarded the regional North America Champions prize.
The awards, presented at a gala ceremony in Singapore recognize individuals whose extraordinary action and personal commitment to the environment are deemed outstanding and exceptional by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The other winners are His Excellency Mr. Cherif Rahmani of Algeria; Elisea 'Bebet' Gillera Gozun of the Philippines; Viveka Bohn of Sweden; Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil; His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan and Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee.
The seven trophies, made by the Kenyan artist Kiko from recycled metal, were presented to the winners and their representatives by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. He was assisted by Ms Shn Juay Shi Yan, the current Miss Earth Singapore.
Mr Steiner said: "If we are to shape a new partnership between human-kind and the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends then we need leaders, we need champions-champions in public life, champions in business and champions in our communities".
'The seven winners honoured this evening are from different corners of the planet and drawn from different backgrounds and experiences. But they share a common sense of purpose and of values. Namely to reject the status quo, to persist when others may have failed and faltered and to deliberately seize the opportunities to promote more intelligent ways of managing development that balances the economic, social and environmental realities of the 21st century ," he said.
The gala event was hosted by UNEP; Ms Hil Hernanez Escobar of Chile, the international Miss Earth 2006; 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).
Mr Rahmani was honoured for advancing environmental law and for addressing the issues of deserts and desertification.
"Dotted with wisdom and grandeur, deserts embody solitude-a solitude upon which silence sows the seeds of culture. It is indeed the solitude and silence of the desert that fostered the cultures that make up much of our universal heritage," he said.
"But today the Earth is subject to abuse in multiple and ever expanding ways-and that abuse even reaches the deserts. I hope I have contributed in my own modest way to building a society in harmony with nature-'this visible part of God's garden'," said Mr Rahmani.
Elisea Bebet Gillera Gozun was honoured for pushing forward the environmental agenda by winning trust across all sectors of society.
"Air quality in most of our urban areas now exceed health guidelines. 15 of our rivers are considered biologically dead during the dry months. Solid waste continues to accumulate and 30 per cent of our people live below the poverty line," she said.
"Societies resemble ecosystems. I thus believe that localized, community-based, multi-sect oral action is the response needed to save and rehabilitate the environment," said Ms Gozun.
Viveka Bohn was honoured for playing her leadership in global efforts to ensure chemical safety, especially through the successful Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management process.
In a statement read by Maria, her daughter, Mrs Bohn said:" I am deeply honoured and truly grateful for this award. It is an appreciation of my contribution to green multilateral diplomacy".
She defined three lessons for successful green diplomacy:" Do your homework!; Do your housework and above all Never Give Up!".
Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva was honoured for her tireless fight to protect the Amazon rainforest while balancing the needs of people. Official deforestation rates have been cut by around 50 per cent in the past three years.
In her video statement she said: "It is the thought of one day being able to substitute predatory development models for sustainable ones; deforestation for conservation and competition for solidarity that I join in along this path with UNEP and my awarded colleagues".
His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal was honoured for his belief in transboundary collaboration to protect the environment
In a video statement he recalled working with farmers in the region following the six-day war: "I remember spending a night in 1977 with an old boy and when he saw electricity and clean water he said to me 'this is the night of destiny'. Thus it is the need of human dignity that motivates me. We, as Arabs or as Muslims, are no different to anyone else. Given a chance we can excel".
Mr Gore, whose trophy was collected by Ms Hannah, said in a statement:" Let me thank UNEP for their years of global leadership. My continuing efforts to communicate to audiences about the climate crisis have prevented me from joining you here today-but do not think it lessens the honour that I feel upon accepting the Champions of the Earth award".
"I have every confidence that when the nations of the world come together to the common good, we will regain our moral authority to tackle the climate crisis and the environmental threats we face today," he added.
Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were honoured for introducing stringent environmental requirements for cities bidding to host Olympic Games.
The trophy was received senior IOC official Pal Schmitt and Ser Miang Ng.
In a video statement Mr Rogge, the IOC President, said: "The IOC started to be environmentally-conscious at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer in 1994. They were called the Green Games. And this is something not only for the 14 days of the games but will leave a legacy for the future of a city and a region".
"We have the mentality of athletes: we are ambitious people. So for the environment and sustainability we want to use the IOC motto of 'higher, stronger, faster!," he added.
Notes to Editors
The full achievements of the 2007 Champions of the Earth and their citations can be found at http://www.unep.org/champions/
The event was hosted in conjunction with the Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit details of which can also be found at the same web site.
For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNEP News Release 2007/13