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Posted on on January 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the spokesperson’s office of UNEP we were sent the following Press Release.

{But let us, note first that – finds of particular interest the choice for the African region of
“Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources,”
and we notice that there is no paragraph when explaining the choice as it was done for all other six choices – the special award, the US award, and the awards from the other five regions. Is this because the gentleman is an official of the government of Sudan and was proposed by the African Union in their routine of spiting the West?     We recreated the paragraph spacing in our posting.}

Climate Change Links 2008 Champions of the Earth Award Winners.

Green achievers from Bangladesh to New Zealand will be honoured at
international award ceremony in April in Singapore

NAIROBI, 28 January 2008 – From protecting the unique biodiversity of
Yemen’s islands to piloting climate-proofing strategies in Sudan and
boosting conservation in Barbados, the 2008 Champions of the Earth are
making their mark across the planet.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, former US Senator Timothy E. Wirth and New
Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark – whose country will host World
Environment Day this year with the theme “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low
Carbon Economy” – are among the seven environmental achievers chosen for
this year’s awards, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
announced today.

The Champions of the Earth prize, which will be given out at a ceremony in
Singapore on 22 April, recognizes individuals from each region of the world
who have shown extraordinary leadership on environmental issues.

The other 2008 Champions of the Earth are: Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior
researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources;

Atiq Rahman, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced
Studies; Liz Thompson, the former Energy and Environment Minister of
Barbados; and Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, the Secretary-General of the Yemen
People’s General Congress.

All the winners have spearheaded outstanding initiatives in many different
areas from environmental policy to cutting-edge research, with a particular
focus on sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

The announcement comes on the eve of the 10th Special Session of the UNEP
Governing Council, which will bring together over 100 ministers from around
the world in Monaco from 20 to 22 February. This year’s Governing Council
will also focus on the urgent challenge of climate change – specifically,
the issue of mobilizing finance to realize a low-carbon world.

Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said: “Today, we face environmental challenges of unprecedented magnitude.
More than ever, our planet needs committed leaders and achievers like the
2008 Champions of the Earth who spur real, positive change and fuel
innovative solutions to environmental problems.

In doing so, these inspirational individuals demonstrate not only that
action and different development paths are possible but also the abundant
opportunities arising as a result of a transformation towards a green

2008 Champions of the Earth:

Rt. Hon. Helen Clark

By setting a carbon-neutral goal for New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen
Clark has put her country at the forefront of today’s environmental
challenges. Three major policy initiatives launched by Miss Clark are also
blazing new trails for sustainability and the fight against climate change:
the Emissions Trading Scheme; the Energy Strategy; and the Energy
Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

Miss Clark’s policies champion renewable energy and energy efficiency
across key sectors of the economy. Her Government is also achieving
substantial work on environmental protection, from forestry and agriculture
to improving public awareness and boosting private sector involvement in
sustainability. New Zealand will be hosting this year’s World Environment
Day – one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations
stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political
attention and action. The event will take place on 5 June 2008 with the
slogan “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy”.

AFRICA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha

Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior scientist from Sudan, is at the forefront
of global research on climate change. A leading author of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, she has produced
groundbreaking work on global warming – the defining challenge of our era –
in Africa, with an emphasis on northern and eastern Africa.

Dr. Osman-Elasha’s emphasis on global warming and adaptation in Sudan is
vital given the strong interlinkages between climate change and conflict in
the country. Her work as a prominent researcher on climate change makes her
a true role model for women in Africa.

The award also recognizes Dr. Osman-Elasha’s efforts to educate Sudanese
university students about the issue of climate change, thus raising
awareness among the country’s new generation.

Dr. Atiq Rahman

Dr. Atiq Rahman is an eloquent advocate for sustainable development from
Bangladesh – a country highly vulnerable to climate change and flooding. As
one of the top specialists in his field, the Executive Director of the
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) transformed the
non-governmental organization (NGO) into a leading think-tank in South Asia
on sustainable development issues.

Dr. Rahman’s extensive publications on the subjects of environment and
development in Bangladesh are a reference for his peers, and he has also
developed an innovative post-graduate course on sustainable development and
North-South dialogue.

With his national and international experience in environment and resource
management, Dr. Rahman’s expertise remains vital throughout the
Asia-Pacific region and beyond as he helps to raise awareness of the
hazards of global warming.

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

One of Prince Albert II’s first acts as sovereign of Monaco was to sign the
Kyoto Protocol – an eloquent sign of his longstanding commitment to the
environment. Prince Albert has been a prominent voice on environmental
issues since the early 1990s and he has been strongly involved in raising
awareness on climate change, leading an expedition to the North Pole in
2006 to draw attention to the consequences of global warming.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which he created in 2006, works
actively on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable
development, with a focus on biodiversity loss, water and the fight against
climate change. Prince Albert is also a patron of the Billion Tree
Campaign, which successfully led to the planting of well over a billion
trees across the planet in 2007.

Prince Albert has also shown remarkable commitment to sustainable
development on his home turf of Monaco. Under his leadership, Monaco is now
applying an exemplary policy on CO2 reduction in every sphere of society as
well as in the business sector.

H. E. Liz Thompson

Ms. Thompson has become one of the recognized leaders on environmental
issues of the small island developing States.

During her time as Minister of Energy and the Environment of Barbados, she
enacted a range of progressive policies for sustainable development and
environmental protection.

She also became a key voice to raise awareness of global warming in
Barbados – a country where the challenges of climate change and
conservation are of particular relevance.

Ms. Thompson has also played a role in environmental awareness and
protection across the Caribbean region. She has encouraged small island
States to diversify their economies, undertake sustainability assessments,
and promote community-based programmes that have positive environmental

Timothy E. Wirth

For the last 30 years, Timothy E. Wirth has been an advocate for
environmental issues in the United States. As the president of the United
Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, Mr. Wirth has established the
environment as a key priority and is mobilizing strong resources to address
crucial issues from biodiversity to climate change and renewable energy.

A strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, Mr. Wirth was instrumental in
raising awareness and calling for policy action on global warming during
his time as United States Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

Mr. Wirth was also a steadfast advocate on environmental issues during his
time as a member of the US Senate, when he engaged in a number of
conservation and natural resource issues in his state of Colorado. Mr.
Wirth authored the Colorado Wilderness Bill as well as other successful
legislation on energy, conservation and environmental protection.

H.E. Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal

Mr. Ba-Jammal has had a truly pioneering influence on environmental
protection in Yemen – a country which faces acute challenges from water
scarcity to desertification. During his time as Minister and then Prime
Minister, he established Yemen’s Ministry of Water and Environment and
Environment Protection Authority, solicited national and international
funding for environmental conservation and sustainable water management,
and implemented a series of groundbreaking environmental policies in Yemen
and its re

Mr. Ba-Jammal also orchestrated conservation efforts for the Socotra
archipelago, a site of global importance for biodiversity. The Socotra
conservation fund came into being under his patronage, and the archipelago
was listed as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve in 2003.

Among other achievements, Mr. Ba-Jammal also supported the declaration of
several marine and land protected areas in Yemen and established a state
agency for the development of Yemeni islands with a focus on marine
resources conservation. Along with Mr. Ba-Jammal’s work on Yemen’s water
sector, all these projects serve as key examples of environmental awareness
in a region where water and conservation issues are of vital importance –
increasingly so in a climate-constrained world.

Champions of the Earth is an international environment award established in
2004 by UNEP. The annual prize rewards individuals from around the globe
who have made a significant and recognized contribution globally,
regionally and beyond, to the protection and sustainable management of the
Earth’s environment and natural resources. Candidates are judged by a
senior UNEP panel with input from UNEP’s regional offices.

Past Champions of the Earth winners include, among others: Ms. Massoudeh
Ebtekar, the former Vice-President of Iran; H.E. Mikhail Gorbachev of the
Russian Federation; H.R.H. Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan; Jacques Rogge
and the International Olympic Committee; and Al Gore, the former
Vice-President of the United States.

The Champions of the Earth are invited to accept their award at an
international ceremony which will be held in Singapore on 22 April 2008.
The event will be hosted in conjunction with the Business for the
Environment Summit (B4E), details of which can be found on the UNEP

No monetary reward is attached to the prize – each laureate receives a
trophy made of recycled metal especially designed by the Kenyan sculptor
Kioko and representing the fundamental elements for life on earth: sun,
air, land and water.

Background on the Champions of the Earth award and all the laureates can be
found at or from UNEP’s communications division at

For information on World Environment Day 2008, please visit…

For more information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on
Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632-755, or: +41-79-596-5737, or
e-mail:  nick.nuttall at; or Anne-France White, Associate Information
Officer, on Tel: +254-20-762-3088, Mobile: +254-738-652793, or e-mail:
 anne-france.white at

UNEP News Release 2008/1

Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at

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