UNEP head donates Tallberg prize money to Pakistan flood victims
Says Natural Disaster Underlines the Serious Environmental Change Challenge Emerging Across the Planet
Nairobi, 30 August 2010 - Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has donated a US$70,000 international leadership prize to relief efforts in Pakistan following the devastating and on-going floods, it was announced today.
Mr. Steiner, who called on others to also assist the victims and support the humanitarian efforts in Pakistan, was awarded the 2010 Tällberg Foundation prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on Sunday evening for 'principled pragmatism' and 'leadership that walks the talk'.
The value of the award, whose previous winners include former Norwegian Prime Minister Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, is 500,000 Swedish Krona or close to US$70,000.
Mr. Steiner, who is also a UN Under-Secretary General, began his professional career working in the villages of Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Province.
He said he had "been deeply touched not only by the scale of the disaster but also the extraordinary efforts of local communities and organizations in mobilizing relief efforts while support from the international community was being deployed".
Mr Steiner announced to the audience that he would immediately transfer the funds to the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) - a national NGO which has mobilised a vital flood relief and rehabilitation effort for the affected communities in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Province during the past weeks.
The funds will be deployed with a focus on rehabilitation and reconstruction projects for communities returning to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
SRSP Chief Executive, Mr Masood Ul Mulk today thanked Mr Steiner on behalf of the people of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa for "remembering them in their hour of distress and for advocating their cause to the world."
He added, "SRSP will live up to the trust placed in it by Mr Steiner and make sure that the contribution makes a difference to the lives of the people it is meant for."
In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony Mr.Steiner called for a spirit of solidarity and generosity to assist the people of Pakistan at this time of crisis.
He also emphasized that while the immediate response and needs of people should be the focus of our attention the nature and scale of this disaster also provided a stark reminder of the need to address the causes and consequences of environmental change on our planet.
"The vulnerability of societies - particularly the poor - to the impacts of these change phenomena such as climate change and degradation of our ecological life support systems continues to grow," Mr Steiner emphasized.
"The world deserves better answers at a time when we have the knowledge and ability to make better choices for the future. No one can be left untouched by the looks of despair, confusion and fear in the eyes of trusting children being carried by their parents through flooded landscapes in the desperate search for a safe place. Our responsibility to reflect and act has never been greater.''
The Foundation described Mr Steiner as a "systems thinker and doer, integrating cultures, disciplines and sectors in the pursuit of a sustainable environment for all". They cited his leadership in launching UNEP's Green Economy Initiative as leaving indelible marks in international and national policy.
In a statement, the Tällberg Foundation said "Achim Steiner has shown an unusual capacity for listening to the needs and views of disparate communities, governments, business, academia, civil society and integrating these into policies which have frequently been implemented. His masterful leadership at the IUCN and the World Commission on Dams paved way for his nomination to lead UNEP."
Notes to Editors:
The Sarhad Rural Support Programme http://srsp.org.pk/srsp-home.html
Tällberg Foundation Leadership Award www.Tällbergfoundation.org
The award is given to an individual who has consistently applied humanistic, social and ecological values in his/her pursuit of results. The prize thus encourages and supports the leadership that combines the articulation of consistent values and positive results - the essence of principled pragmatism.
Previous winners include Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Director-General of the World Health Organisation, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The prize consists of a diploma and a contribution of 500 000 Swedish Kroner (SEK) to the recipient's charity of choice.
The contribution of 500 000 SEK is made possible by the generous support of Svenska PostkodLotteriet.
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister, Norway (2009)
Kofi Annan, President, Global Humanitarian Forum, Geneva and former Secretary-General, United Nations, New York (2008)
Lord John Browne of Madingley, former Group Chief Executive, BP, United Kingdom (2006)
Russell Ackoff, Chairman, Interact, USA (2005)
For More Information Please Contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 733 632755 or E-mail: email@example.com