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Environmental heroes celebrated at the 2017 Green Star Awards

27 Sep 2017


Last night, the 2017 Green Star Awards ceremony recognized three organizations for their commitment to preventing, preparing for, and responding to environmental emergencies, as well as their efforts to integrate environment in humanitarian action.

The Award winners are Maestros Leadership Team (Malawi), PAX (Netherlands) and Cooperación Comunitaria A.C. (Mexico).

The ceremony concluded the first day of the 2017 Environment and Emergencies Forum, a biennial event organized by the Joint Unit of UN Environment and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Forum continues until Thursday 28 September at the UN Office at Nairobi.

Over 50 individuals and organizations were nominated for a Green Star Award in one of three categories: prevention and preparedness, response, and environment and humanitarian action.
In the category of Prevention and Preparedness, Maestros Leadership Team was recognized 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 Team, 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.”

The Green Star Award for Response was presented to Wim Zwijnenburg, Project Leader at PAX. The organization was recognized 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 organization promotes local peace initiatives in 15 countries, building better humanitarian responses to those communities affected by toxic remnants of war.

In the category Environment and Humanitarian Action, the Mexican organization Cooperación Comunitaria A.C. was recognized for their efforts in reconstructing communities following the devastating hurricanes and landslides in the mountainous region of the Guerrero State in 2013. The organization supported the building of two community centres, reinforced 48 adobe homes, created five community maps of risk, and provided trainings to locals and leaders. Accepting the award, Director of Cooperación Comunitaria A.C., 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."

The Green Star Awards is a collaborative initiative of Green Cross International, UN Environment and OCHA. The Award ceremony, now in its fifth edition, is a biennial event.
For more information, contact the UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit at:

Photo: Natalia Mroz
From the left to the right:
• Leif Jonsson, Chair of the 2017 Environment and Emergencies Forum
• Jesper Holmes Lund, Chief, Emergency Services Branch and Field Coordination Support Section, OCHA Geneva
• Isadora Garcia Hastings, Director, Cooperacion Comunitaria A.C. (winner of the Environment and Humanitarian Action category)
• Wim Zwijnenburg, Project Leader, PAX (winner of the Response category)
• Charles Lipenga, CEO, Maestros Leadership Team (winner of the Prevention and Preparedness category)
• Mubarick Mazawudu, CEO Green Cross Ghana
• Mette Wilkie, Director, Ecosystems Division, UN Environment
• Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment