|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
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.