UN Chief Wins Million Dollar Environmental Leadership Prize

DUBAI, December 23, 2005 (ENS) – United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has won a million dollar Global Leadership for the Environment prize. Members of an international jury were unanimous in their decision to award the 2005 Zayed Prize to Annan, who is in the ninth year of his two five-year terms as leader of the world body.

The Zayed International Prize for the Environment is given to acknowledge the environmental commitment of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It was established by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and United Arab Emirates Minister of Defense.

The Zayed International Prize for the Environment is awarded every two years. It was first awarded in 2001.

Winners of the two other Zayed awards were also announced Monday.

The 2nd Category Award - Scientific and or Technological Achievement in Environment - has been won by the 1,360 experts of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which has catalogued the condition of the globe’s ecosystems and their lifegiving services.

The 3rd Category Award - Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change in Society - is jointly shared between Angela Cropper, co-president of the Cropper Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago and Emil Salim, the former Indonesian State Minister for Population and the Environment and the chair of the board of trustees for numerous Indonesian environmental organizations.

Previous Global Leadership winners have been Jimmy Carter, the former President of the United States, and the British Broadcasting Corporation for their global media commitment to environment and sustainable development issues.

Annan

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of Ghana will receive the 2005 Zayed Prize of one million dollars. (Photo courtesy UN)
In their citation, the jury says that “one person has done more than most to catalyze political and public opinion to an understanding that the environment is a fundamental pillar of sustainable development. That person is Mr. Kofi Annan.”

They note the various reports, requested by the UN Secretary-General in the run up to the 2005 World Summit in New York including “A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility” and “In Larger Freedom.”

The Zayed Prize Jury also noted the personal leadership of the Secretary-General at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in South Africa that addressed the water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity themes.

‘Mr. Annan has emphasized the importance of the multilateral system in all facets of his work, convinced that global environmental challenges require global cooperation,” adds the jury.

In their citation the International Jury says that the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the work of 1,360 experts from 95 countries, is a “landmark study on the condition of the world’s ecosystem services from fisheries and freshwaters up to the carbon capture of the world’s forests”.

“It also underlines the economic importance of natural or nature’s capital and demonstrates that the degradation of ecosystems is progressing at an alarming and unsustainable rate,” adds the jury.

The Assessment is not only a remarkable scientific achievement, the jury said, but one that is “commanding political attention while shaping the environmental agenda of the 21st century, especially in the challenging area of ensuring nature’s capital is given real value alongside financial and human capital”.

leaders

Annan appointed former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, the current President's father, to serve as special envoy for South Asian earthquake disaster, at UN Headquarters in New York, December 15, 2005. (Photo courtesy UN)
"The Zayed Prize Secretariat received over 80 nominations from all five continents, these were short listed by the International Technical Advisory Committee and then went into final selection by the International Jury before taking the recommendations to the Patron, H.H. General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for final approval," said Dr. Mohamed A. Bin Fahad, chairman of the Zayed Prize Higher Committee.

The Zayed Prize Higher Committee (HC) has expressed the hope that the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment will use the prize money to disseminate the great achievements and make them available to all world communities and policy makers.

"The HC is also hopeful that this award will be an incentive to Mr. Annan, Mrs. Cropper and Professor Salem to push for more sustainable life on Earth," said Dr. Bin Fahad.

Klaus Toepfer, chair of the jury and executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said, “The jury was faced with many outstanding candidates for the Zayed Prizes. But when you look at the overall global impact on politics, business, science and civil society of Mr. Annan’s environment and sustainable development-related initiatives, we came to the conclusion he is deservedly the global winner.”

“The winners of the other two categories are also outstanding in their own right and we will be delighted to welcome them in Dubai on February 6, 2006 for the Third Award Ceremony,” Toepfer said.

The Zayed International Prize for the Environment holds events as well as granting the prize award.

The Second Festival of the Cultures and Civilizations of World Deserts was held in April 2005 and was attended by two heads of states - the presidents of Algeria and South Africa - in addition to over 40 ministers of environment, culture and tourism.

This month, the Zayed Prize organized a conference on fuel cells and the hydrogen economy in collaboration with private companies in order to encourage transfer of clean energy technology to the region.

The Foundation continues to publish a monthly booklet series for school children, the Monthly Magazine "Environment and Society" in Arabic and English, and the refereed quarterly book series, “The World of the Environment” in Arabic. The fourth book issued last month was titled, "Clean Agriculture."

The International Jury for the 2005 awards includes Achim Steiner, Director General of IUCN-the World Conservation Union; Professor Mostafa Tolba, president of the International Environment and Development Centre; Yolanda Kakabadse, former IUCN President and Zayed Prize Laureate; Sir David King, chief scientist of the government of the United Kingdom; Professor Mario Molina, a winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and Yoriko Kawaguchi, the former Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The United Arab Emirates is represented in the International Jury by Hanad A. Al Midfaa, minister of health and chairman of the Federal Environmental Agency Board.