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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP PRESS RELEASE

2007 UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Make Big ‘Splash’                                                               at Gala Ceremony in Singapore.

Inspirational Winners from Algeria, Brazil and Jordan to the Philippines,
Sweden and the United States Lauded for ‘Extraordinary’ Leadership   In
Environment and Sustainable Development

SINGAPORE, 19 April 2007—Hollywood star and environmental campaigner Daryl
Hannah was among the high and the humble in Singapore last night to honour
the 2007 Champions of the Earth.

Ms Hannah, famous for films like “Splash” and her support for renewable
energies, received the trophy on behalf of Al Gore—the former US
Vice-President and climate change campaigner was awarded the regional                                             North America Champions prize.

The awards, presented at a gala ceremony in Singapore, recognize
individuals whose extraordinary action and personal commitment to the
environment are deemed outstanding and exceptional by the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP).

The other winners are His Excellency Mr. Cherif Rahmani of Algeria;                                                             Elisea ‘Bebet’ Gillera Gozun of the Philippines;                                                                                                                                                                 Viveka Bohn of Sweden;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil;                                                                                                                                                                                         His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan;                                                                                                                               and Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee.

The seven trophies, made by the Kenyan artist Kiko from recycled metal,
were presented to the winners and their representatives by Achim Steiner,
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. He was assisted by
Ms Shn Juay Shi Yan, the current Miss Earth Singapore.

Mr. Steiner said: “If we are to shape a new partnership between human-kind
and the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends then we
need leaders, we need champions—champions in public life, champions in
business and champions in our communities.”

“The seven winners honoured this evening are from different corners of the
planet and drawn from different backgrounds and experiences. But they share
a common sense of purpose and of values: namely, to reject the status quo,
to persist when others may have failed and faltered and to deliberately
seize the opportunities to promote more intelligent ways of managing
development that balances the economic, social and environmental realities
of the 21st century “, he said.

The gala event was hosted by UNEP; Ms Hil Hernanez Escobar of Chile, the
international Miss Earth 2006; the Singapore Ministry of the Environment
and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with the
support of various sponsors and partners including Asia Pacific Resources
International Holdings (APRIL).

Mr. Rahmani of Algeria was honoured for advancing environmental law and for
addressing the issues of deserts and desertification.

“Dotted with wisdom and grandeur, deserts embody solitude—a solitude upon
which silence sows the seeds of culture. It is indeed the solitude and
silence of the desert that fostered the cultures that make up much of our
universal heritage”, he said.

“But today the Earth is subject to abuse in multiple and ever expanding
ways—and that abuse even reaches the deserts. I hope I have contributed in
my own modest way to building a society in harmony with nature—‘this
visible part of God’s garden'”, said Mr. Rahmani.

Elisea Bebet Gillera Gozun was honoured for pushing forward the
environmental agenda by winning trust across all sectors of Philippine
society.

“Air quality in most of our urban areas now exceeds health guidelines.
Fifteen of our rivers are considered biologically dead during the dry
months. Solid waste continues to accumulate and 30 per cent of our people
live below the poverty line”, she said.

“Societies resemble ecosystems. I thus believe that localized,
community-based, multi-sectoral action is the response needed to save and
rehabilitate the environment”, said Ms Gozun.

Viveka Bohn of Sweden was honoured for playing her leadership in global
efforts to ensure chemical safety, especially through the successful
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) process.

In a statement read by her daughter Maria, Mrs Bohn said: “I am deeply
honoured and truly grateful for this award. It is an appreciation of my
contribution to green multilateral diplomacy.”

She defined three lessons for successful green diplomacy:   “Do your
homework!; Do your housework and above all Never Give Up!.”

Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil was honoured for her tireless
fight to protect the Amazon rainforest while balancing the needs of people.
Official deforestation rates have been cut by around 50 per cent in the
past three years.

In her video statement, she said: “It is the thought of one day being able
to substitute predatory development models for sustainable ones;
deforestation for conservation and competition for solidarity that I join
in along this path with UNEP and my awarded colleagues.”

His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan was honoured for his
belief in transboundary collaboration to protect the environment.

In a video statement he recalled working with farmers in the region
following the six-day war: “I remember spending a night in 1977 with an
older boy and when he saw electricity and clean water he said to me ‘this
is the night of destiny’. Thus it is the need of human dignity that
motivates me. We, as Arabs or as Muslims, are no different to anyone else.
Given a chance we can excel.”

Mr. Gore, whose trophy was collected by Ms Hannah, said in a statement:
“Let me thank UNEP for their years of global leadership. My continuing
efforts to communicate to audiences about the climate crisis have prevented
me from joining you here today—but do not think it lessens the honour that
I feel upon accepting the Champions of the Earth award.”

“I have every confidence that when the nations of the world come together
to the common good, we will regain our moral authority to tackle the
climate crisis and the environmental threats we face today”, he added.

Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were honoured
for introducing stringent environmental requirements for cities bidding to
host Olympic Games.

The trophy was received by senior IOC officials Pal Schmitt and Ser Miang
Ng.

In a video statement Mr Rogge, the IOC President, said: “The IOC started to
be environmentally-conscious at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer in 1994.
They were called the Green Games. And this is something not only for the 14
days of the Games but will leave a legacy for the future of a city and a
region.”

“We have the mentality of athletes: we are ambitious people. So for the
environment and sustainability we want to use the IOC motto of ‘higher,
stronger, faster!”, he added.
The full achievements of the 2007 Champions of the Earth and their
citations can be found at www.unep.org/champions/

The event was hosted in conjunction with the Business for the Environment
(B4E) Summit details of which can also be found at the same web site.

For more information,   please contact:   Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on
Tel: +254-20-7623084, Mobile: +254-733-632755, E-mail:
 nick.nuttall at unep.org style=”text-align: center”>

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