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The Green Star Awards recognize outstanding individuals or organisations that have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental emergencies – as well as to integrate environment with humanitarian action across the world.

Environmental emergencies are disasters (such as industrial accidents, earthquakes, or conflicts) where there is both severe environmental damage as well as harm to human health and/or livelihoods.

The biennial Green Star Awards, first presented in 2009, are a collaborative initiative between the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Green Cross International (GCI), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The 2017 Green Star Awardees were announced in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2017.

The 2017 Green Star Awardees selected by the jury included the three following laureates:

In the ‘Prevention & Preparedness’ category

  • Maestros Leadership Co. was recognised for their outstanding work through their MaGREEN project, which was launched in response to torrential rains in Malawi in 2015. Through the project, over 5,000 trees were planted in Malawi’s flood-prone areas covering 20,000 square meters, and over 500 youth were trained to campaign for climate action. Accepting the award on behalf of Maestros Leadership Co., CEO Charles Lipenga remarked, “Effective leaders are in short supply and empowering the youth is the surest way to increase it for an inevitable future transformation.”

In the ‘Response’ category

  • Wim Zwijnenburg, PAX Project Leader – The organisation was recognised for its professionalism and leadership in the protection of civilians during war and armed conflicts, and its commitment to building peace with justice. “PAX is humbled by winning the Green Star Award and we aim to contribute further to demonstrating the link between conflict, environmental impact and pollution”, said Zwijnenburg. The organisation promotes local peace initiatives in 15 countries, building better humanitarian responses to those communities affected by toxic remnants of war.

In the ‘Environment and Humanitarian Action’ category

  • The Mexican organisation Cooperación Comunitaria was recognised for their efforts in reconstructing communities following the devastating hurricanes and landslides in the mountainous region of the Guerrero State in 2013. The organisation supported the building of two community centres, reinforced 48 adobe homes, created five community maps of risk, and provided training to locals and leaders. Accepting the award, Director of Cooperación Comunitaria, Isadora Hastings Garcia, quoted the indigenous tradition El Buen Vivir, “there is not a dichotomy between human and nature, we all are nature, we all come from Mother Earth.”