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Speech by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the World Challenge Awards

The Hague, 1 December 2009 - Your Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Community; Finalists of the 2009 World Challenge Awards, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you so much for inviting me here today to take part in this remarkable awards ceremony.

It represents the power and interactive medium of television and the internet to bridge social, environmental and the knowledge divide.

But above all it underlines the power of the human spirit and of human ingenuity to devise solutions to urgent development - sustainable development- issues.

Simplicity versus Complexity

Looking through the web site that supports these awards-and reading and watching the film clips on the various candidates-one is struck by a contrast.

That is the contrast between the often paralyzing complexity human-kind can so ably devise and tie-itself into knots with, set against the empowering simplicity of the projects and solutions show-cased today.

That complexity is no more evident than in the United Nations climate change negotiations.

They will, in less than one week's time, need to reach a fundamental and transformational milestone in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

Over recent years the international community has been burrowing ever deeper into the sediments and intricacies of text and the minutiae of fine-detail.

What is needed in Copenhagen is for world leaders and nations to soar above the ever-widening disconnect between an opaque and seemingly remote multi-lateral negotiation and the challenge at hand.

Indeed they need to perhaps re-connect with the energy, vision and determination to challenge the status quo so evident in the projects and people in this room.

I am sure that each of you has had moments when you were told by someone that what you were embarking upon was not possible - well done for not listening, congratulations for just getting on with it despite the odds.

Let us hope that the negotiators in Copenhagen take a feather out of each and all of your caps - can get on with it despite the odds too.

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Further Resources

2009 World Challenge

UNEP awards

UNEP climate change portal

Seal the Deal! campaign

UNEP Green Economy Initiative


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