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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

UNEP's Global 500 awards: wise practices in action

Posted By: Moderator
Date: Thursday, 13 July 2000, at 10:43 a.m.


The Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum joins the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the call to identify and nominate environmental advocates for the Global 500 Award. Nomination forms can be obtained from UNEP Headquarters, and from UNEP's regional offices.

Five projects and individuals contributing directly to the better management of coastal environments, are among this year's 14 winners of the UNEP Global 500 Award. These are briefly described below.

Asbjorn Bjorgvinsson of Iceland for countering the commercial lobby to re-establish whaling and for having Iceland rejoin the International Whaling Commission through the promotion of ecotourism and of the whale watching industry. In 1995, Bjorgvinsson helped set up three whale watching companies, organized an international workshop, and produced the first annual report on the Icelandic whale watching industry. In 1997, he left his engineering consulting position in Reykjavik, to establish the Husavik Whale Centre - the first and only whale information centre in Iceland. Husavik is now the centre for whale watching in Iceland. Bjorgvinsson's public awareness initiatives have produced a generation of Icelanders who are respectful of the marine environment.


Chumbe Island Coral Park in Tanzania for preserving a pristine coral island ecosystem in an otherwise over-fished and over-exploited area. Established in 1992, the Chumbe Island Coral Park is the first and only marine nature reserve in Tanzania developed by a private company. Declared a protected area by the Government of Zanzibar in 1994, the island is now a pristine coral island ecosystem. It provides important community benefits and social services to the population of Zanzibar, particularly fishermen and school children, including protection of valuable flora and fauna, restocking of locally depleted fisheries, protection of degraded coral reef ecosystems, training in conservation management to fishermen and other stakeholders, and environmental education. The project has also provided valuable experience in the financially sustainable management of protected areas.


Robert Hager, a correspondent for NBC News Network in the United States for alerting the American people to the environmental challenges facing the planet, particularly global warming and ozone depletion. He has been notably courageous among TV commentators in linking weather and climate events to global warming, and has been a positive and important voice for the environment in the media. His reports, reaching millions of Americans daily on NBC's Evening News, the Today Show and the new MS/NBC Cable News station, have been factual, direct and forceful, always emphasizing a strong and sound environmental component. He reported on the Administration's attempts to deny the existence of global warming.


The city of Las Pinas in the Philippines for resolving environmental problems through legislation and action. Growing from a sleepy agricultural and fishing community into one of the most highly urbanized cities in Metro Manila, the city of Las Pinas with half a million people, is home to big businesses such as Goodyear, Philips, Sarao Motors. Under the leadership of its mayor, Vergel Aguilar, the city has drawn up a blueprint addressing the protection of the environment through legislation and action. The city reached its zero-waste management goal and used the savings to finance projects, such as the construction of roads, schools, health clinics, and colleges. To encourage the active participation of the communities, beautification contests are conducted, tree parks/playgrounds are maintained, students are involved in cleaning and beautifying the areas around their schools as well as in other environmental awareness activities.


Mei Ng of Hong Kong, People's Republic of China, for leading the fight against the illegal encroachment of country parks, the over-expansion of power plants, the use of pesticides, air pollution and poor government administration. The first Chinese director of Friends of the Earth Hong Kong, Mei Ng has worked tirelessly to defend Hong Kong's endangered environment and to spread the message into China. She pioneered pre-school environmental education in Hong Kong and China and introduced home-audit and green housekeeping practices to families living in public housing estates. Her new millennium vision is to push for a renewable energy approach in Hong Kong, while championing the sustainability of the threatened Yangtze River, by establishing an ecological monitoring station and community reforestation programme at the source of China's longest river.


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