Environmental leaders recognised at Green Star Awards

18 May, 2011
Nigeria lead poisoning: The OCHA/UNEP team measures pH of well water in Abare village surrounded by curious villagers. Credit: OCHA/Matthew Conway
Nigeria lead poisoning: The OCHA/UNEP team measures pH of well water in Abare village surrounded by curious villagers. Credit: OCHA/Matthew Conway

The United Nations and Green Cross International today announced the winners of the Green Star Awards. The award is given in recognition 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. Particular importance is placed on the connection between environmental risks from disasters and conflicts, crisis-affected populations, and providers of humanitarian assistance.

The Green Star Awards were presented at the 9th meeting of the Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies (AGEE). “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:

  • Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Greek Parliament: In recognition of her work on reconstruction efforts following environmental emergencies;
  • Dr. Mary Catherine Comerio, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley: Recognised work in the area of post-disaster reconstruction following earthquakes in China (2008) and in Haiti (2009-2010);
  • Linda Norgrove: Posthumous Award given for her outstanding leadership and commitment in responding to the severe environmental challenges facing Afghanistan, Ms. Norgrove was kidnapped in Afghanistan in October 2010 and died during a rescue attempt:
  • The Blacksmith Institute: A US-based non-profit organisation, dedicated to solving pollution problems in low and middle income countries, where human health is at risk;
  • Environmental engineering firm TerraGraphics: Recognised for for its promotion of environmental clean-up methodologies in developing regions;
  • Artsen zonder Grenzen (Médecins Sans Frontières - Holland): Acknowledged for its ongoing contribution to environmental emergency response efforts, specifically in regard to lead poisoning in the Nigerian state of Zamfara in 2010.

“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 ERC Valerie Amos. “These individuals and organizations have all contributed substantially to saving lives and livelihoods, now and in the future.”

OCHA works closely with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies, National Focal Points and other UN agencies and programmes to develop policies, guidelines and tools for environmental emergency response. OCHA assists countries improve their ability to prepare for, and respond to natural disasters and other emergencies, and provides support to (governments, local actors, etc?) toincrease national capacity through technical advice and training.
 
The Green Star award winners “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.” 

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.

More>> Press Release OCHA’s work in Environmental Emergencies