Awards and Events                
      UNEP at Work                
Awards and Events

2011 International Year of Forests

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2011 the International Year of Forests (IYF). The IYF is a unique opportunity to increase public awareness of the key role of forests and sustainable forest management in building a greener, more equitable, sustainable future. The official launch of the Year took place at United Nations Headquarters during the 9th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in January. For more information about IYF and UNEP’s activities, see

Nagoya Protocol

In late 2010, after close to 20 years of discussion and debate, Governments from across the globe agreed to a new treaty to manage the world’s economically central genetic resources in a far fairer and more systematic way. The approval to establish an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources (ABS) came on the last day of the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in October in Nagoya, Japan. The treaty, lays down basic ground rules on how nations cooperate in obtaining genetic resources from animals, plants and fungi.

The Earth Awards 2010

A revolutionary artificial foam that captures and converts the sun’s energy more effectively than living organisms — and is a means of making biofuel — was the grand prize winner of The Earth Awards 2010. Other category winners included: Earth Tiles, which empower people in the world’s poorest and most remote areas to build their own sustainable homes with natural resources; and Polli Bricks, a cost-effective form of cladding, which is the world’s first scalable carbon-neutral recycled polymer architectural cladding, 100 per cent re-engineered from recycled plastic bottles. The Earth Awards encourage designers, innovators and consumers to find new ways to build a new economy.


Aristotle Onasis International Prize for the Protection of the Environment 2010

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is the winner of the inaugural Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment. FoEME was awarded the 250,000 euro prize in November for its longstanding work in maintaining the River Jordan as a vital natural resource for all people living within the borders of Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and for contributing to the understanding between peoples in this sensitive area. The Onassis prize is a new biannual award for outstanding contributions towards protecting and improving the environment, including sustainable use of energy.


The 5th International Marine Debris Conference

This conference took place from 20 to 25 March, 2011, in Honolulu, Hawai’i, bringing together 440 participants representing some 38 countries. Conference participants – researchers, natural resource managers, policymakers, industry representatives, and the non-governmental community – refined and endorsed by acclamation the Honolulu Commitment, which outlines 12 actions to reduce marine debris. Participants and a group of rapporteurs also worked to revise the Honolulu Strategy, a framework strategy to prevent, reduce, and manage marine debris. The conference was co-organized by The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and UNEP and allowed sharing of strategies and best practices to assess, reduce and prevent the impacts of marine debris through workshops, field trips, technical and policy sessions, poster presentations, and panel discussions.

SEED Awar ds 2010

A novel solar device that turns waste heat into electricity in rural China, a Ugandan business that manufactures stationery from agricultural waste, a bamboo bicycle project in Ghana and a South African hand-held laundry device that saves water are among the 30 winners of the 2010 SEED Awards. The SEED Awards recognize inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs whose businesses can help meet sustainable development challenges. By helping entrepreneurs to scaleup their activities, the SEED Initiative, hosted by UNEP, aims to boost local economies and tackle poverty, while promoting the sustainable use of resources and ecosystems.