Brazil‘s Environment Minister to Receive UN 'Champion of the Earth' Award di, sep 17, 2013

Izabella Teixeira Recognized for Brazil's Successful Efforts to Reverse Deforestation in the Amazon

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Brasília / Nairobi, 18 September 2013 - Brazil's Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira has received the United Nations 2013 Champions of the Earth award. The prize - the UN system's highest environmental accolade - is awarded to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.

Ms. Teixeira received a Policy Leadership award for, among other achievements, her key role in reversing deforestation in the Amazon forest and her contribution to high-level UN panels on sustainable development.

She joins an eclectic group of laureates, including a sustainable food pioneer, the developers of Google Earth, and a pioneering air pollution researcher, who were honoured at a special ceremony in New York today.

Ms. Teixeira was central in implementing land use policies in Brazil that have aided the control and prevention of deforestation. According to government figures, over the past eight years Brazil has seen a reduction in deforestation of 84 per cent, from an annual loss of over 27,000 sq km in 2004 to around 4,500 sq km in 2012.

As part of deforestation efforts, the Brazilian government has invested in greater enforcement measures by police, and in the use of satellites to track changes in forest cover.

An additional 250,000 sq km of conservation area has also been introduced - equivalent to 75 per cent of the globe's total forested protected areas.

"To be a Champion of the Earth is an honour, but also a responsibility. Just one year ago, the global community was discussing how to achieve the ambitious goals of Rio+20, and now we are already seeing some of these goals becoming a reality," said Ms. Teixeira

"We are witnessing a positive change in the way sustainable development is seen, and embraced, by policymakers. This award recognizes the achievements we have made to date, and encouraging us to take action in the face of future environmental challenges. I know I can always count on UNEP and the rest of the UN family as partners in these efforts," she added.

"Izabella's commitment to the environment has been central to her professional career in science and politics. She has been at the centre of some of the most highly debated and transformational topics of our time from the Rio+20 Summit to the reform of Brazil's forest policy. Izabella has throughout taken a principled but also politically pragmatic approach while building bridges to others," said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

In 2010 and 2012, Ms. Teixeira was invited by the UN Secretary-General to join the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which was tasked with formulating a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity.

Ms. Teixeira played a prominent role in the preparation and outcome of last year's UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), hosted by the Government of Brazil. Following the summit, Ms. Teixeira was nominated to join the UN's High Level Panel on Post-2015 Development, which advised the organization on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"This award recognizes Ms. Teixeira's excellent work at international environmental conferences, her tireless defense of Brazil and sustainable development on the international stage, and her capacity to work effectively with different sectors of society. The environment can continue to count on Izabella Teixeira's dedication at a global level," said UNEP's Representative in Brazil, Denise Hamú.

Other winners of the 2013 Champions of the Earth award, which is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), include: Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment; Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement; Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD; Google Earth; Jack Dangermond, founder of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo , Director of the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group in Mexico.

The Champions of the Earth award ceremony, sponsored by Guangdong Wealth, was held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and hosted by supermodel and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen.

Ms. Teixeira, who was nominated in the Policy Leadership category, becomes the third Brazilian  winner of the award, following the CEO of Grupo Abril, Fabio Barbosa, and former Minister of Environment, Marina Silva.

The full list of 2013 Champions of the Earth winners is as follows.

POLICY LEADERSHIP

Ms. Izabella Teixeira, Minister of Environment, Brazil is recognized for her key role in reversing deforestation in the Amazon and her role on high-level UN panels on sustainable development., According to government figures, Brazil has cut deforestation by 84 per cent over eight years, from an annual loss of over 27,000 sq km in 2004 to around 4,500 sq km in 2012. Apart from the prevention and control of deforestation, the land use planning policies implemented by Ms. Teixeira resulted in 250,000 sq km of conservation areas ? the equivalent of 75 per cent of global forest protected areas.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment is recognized for his work advocating a shift from the current global model of intensive resource consumption, including setting 2020 targets for the European Union to halve food waste and practically eliminate the need for landfills. His role in tackling resource inefficiencies across the food chain has contributed substantially to the ongoing UN campaign on food waste, Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint.        

ENTREPRENEURIAL VISION

Brian McClendon, co-founder and VP of Google Earth is recognized for providing a powerful tool to monitor the state of the environment, allowing researchers to detect deforestation, classify land cover and estimate forest biomass and carbon and thus demonstrate the scale of problems and illustrate solutions. Google Earth, for example, was used to help rescue workers save more than 4,000 people after Hurricane Katrina and, in Australia, a scientist used the tool to discover a previously unknown coral reef in a region that had been identified for oil and gas development.

Jack Dangermond, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is recognized for his commitment to ensuring that international, research, education, and nonprofit organizations working in the fields of conservation and development have access to the best geospatial analytical and visualization technology. In 1989, the ESRI Conservation Program was started to change the way non-profit organizations carry out conservation missions. This program provides GIS software, data, and training, and helps to coordinate multi-organizational efforts

SCIENCE AND INNOVATION

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD was recognized for his pioneering work on black carbon, which included leading a team that first discovered widespread Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) and research into how cutting black carbon can significantly mitigate climate change. Dr. Ramanathan showed that ABCs led to large-scale dimming, decreased monsoon rainfall and rice harvest in India and played a dominant role in the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. A member of the Science Advisory Panel on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, he is now running Project Surya, which aims at reducing soot emissions from bio-fuel cooking in rural India.

INSPIRATION AND ACTION

Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food movement is recognized for his visionary work to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the world's agriculture and food supply "one bite at a time". Slow Food has over 100,00 members and supporters in over 150 countries, defending local food traditions, protecting local biodiversity and promoting small-scale quality products. Petrini is also a coordinator of National and International level research projects in the bioethical field. In 2012, Petrini was invited to speak at the Sustainable Development Dialogue on Food and Nutrition Security at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, Director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda is recognized for her work in the Sierra Gorda region of Central Mexico, which demonstrates how a broad range of advocacy, public education and income-generation approaches, can produce support healthy ecosystems and alleviate poverty. She was responsible for achieving Biosphere Reserve status for Sierra Gorda under an innovative public-private system. Through her work and advocacy, 33 per cent of the State of Querétaro is now protected as a Biosphere Reserve. Hundreds of families in Sierra Gorda now receive a total of over US$2 million from the sale of carbon credits.

Notes to Editors

Individual press releases announcing the credentials of each of the winners are available at http://www.unep.org

About Champions of the Earth

Champions of the Earth, which was launched in 2005, is the UN's flagship environmental award. To date, it has recognized 59 individuals and organizations for their leadership, vision, inspiration and action on the environment. The list of previous Champions laureates include Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Chinese actress and environmental advocate Zhou Xun, the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and global music legend Angélique Kidjo.

Visit http://www.unep.org/champions/ for more details.

About Guangdong Wealth, Sponsor of the Champions of the Earth Awards

Guangdong Wealth Environmental Protection is a leading supplier of water purifying products and water treatment integrated solutions in China. The company practices a business model that puts social welfare before economic interests, using the concept "let the sky be bluer and the water clearer". The company invests in environmental scholarships for young university students, organizes clean-up operations, and donates tonnes of purifying tablets to tackle pollution in rivers in Guangdong and Beijing.

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

NY: James Sniffen, UNEP New York Office, Tel. +1-212 963 8094/8210 or Tel. +1-917-742 2281, Email: sniffenj@un.org

UNEP HQ: Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk. Tel.: +254 713601259    E-mail:  unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Marcelo Tavela, UNEP Brazil Office, on + 55 61 3038.9237 or e-mail comunicacao@pnuma.org

 
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