A not-for-profit organization tackling life-threatening pollution in developing countries and a renowned academic working to make houses safer during earthquakes are among the recipients of this year’s Green Star Awards recognized at an awards ceremony 18 May in Bern, Switzerland.
An international jury of environmental emergency experts selected the winners based on their work in a variety of domains, including international capacity-building missions aimed at helping countries prepare for and providing support to international response missions to countries affected by environmental emergencies.
The Green Star Awards emphasize the connection between environmental risks from disasters and conflicts, crisis-affected populations, and providers of humanitarian assistance. They recognize the achievements of individuals, organizations, government and private enterprises that have demonstrated leadership in preparing for, responding to, and reducing the environmental impacts of disasters and conflicts.
“Given the multitude and scale of environmental emergencies the world is experiencing, recognizing those helping to prepare and respond to these catastrophic events is increasingly important,” said Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International. “This year’s class of Green Star winners demonstrates the depth of efforts being taken worldwide.”
The 2011 winners are:
Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou was recognized for her pro bono work to support reconstruction efforts following environmental emergencies, such as the wild fire that devastated areas of the Peloponnese region in Greece in August 2007. The selection committee also honoured Dr. Mary C. Comerio for her invaluable work in the area of post-disaster reconstruction following earthquakes in China (2008) and in Haiti (2009-2010). Finally, Ms. Linda Norgrove was given a posthumous award in honour of her outstanding leadership and commitment in responding to the severe environmental challenges facing Afghanistan, and for her efforts to avert future environment emergencies in the country. Ms. Norgrove was kidnapped in Afghanistan in October 2010 and died during a rescue attempt.
Organisations being recognized this year include the Blacksmith Institute, an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving pollution problems in low and middle income countries, where human health is at risk. Its current programmes in highly polluted locations in the developing world include Mozambique, Nigeria and the Philippines. Terragraphics Environmental Engineering is being awarded for its promotion of environmental clean-up methodologies in developing regions. Finally, Artsen Zonder Grenzen was recognized for its ongoing contribution to environmental emergency response efforts, specifically in regard to lead poisoning in the Nigerian state of Zamfara in 2010.
Launched in 2008, the awards are a collaborative initiative between Green Cross International (GCI), an international non-governmental organization, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Recent events in Japan, the forest fires in Israel and Russia, as well as the toxic lead pollution in Nigeria underscore the relevance of the work undertaken by the 2011 Green Star Awards winners,” said Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “These individuals and organizations have all contributed substantially to saving lives and livelihoods, now and in the future.”
“I want to pay tribute to the Green Star award winners. They make our work possible, they make our work meaningful and very often they make the difference between life and death”, said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“In the work of UNEP over the years, post-disaster and post-conflict work has become more and more important and, in fact, it has now become one of our six major areas of work. We see our role contributing through the lens of the environmental dimension of these emergencies as being a critical part of the international family to try and assist in these often very trying circumstances.”
For more information on the Green Star Awards please visit http://www.unep.org/greenstar.
To see more pictures from the awards ceremony, visit GCI’s flickr