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UN Honours NZ & Bangladesh Environmental Leaders

Environmental leaders from Bangladesh to New Zealand to receive UN honours

28 January 2008 - The head of a leading South Asian environmental think tank and the Prime Minister of New Zealand are among those chosen as this year's Champions of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for spearheading efforts to advance sustainable development and combat climate change.

Atiq Rahman, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, and Prime Minister Helen Clark are among the seven environmental leaders chosen for the prize, which will be given out at a ceremony in Singapore on 22 April.

The other winners are Prince Albert II of Monaco; former United States Senator Timothy E. Wirth; Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan's Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources; Liz Thompson, the former Energy and Environment Minister of Barbados; and Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, the Secretary-General of the Yemen People's General Congress.

"Today, we face environmental challenges of unprecedented magnitude. More than ever, our planet needs committed leaders and achievers like the 2008 Champions of the Earth who spur real, positive change and fuel innovative solutions to environmental problems," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"These inspirational individuals demonstrate not only that action and different development paths are possible but also the abundant opportunities arising as a result of a transformation towards a green economy."

This year's winners have all spearheaded exceptional initiatives on issues ranging from protecting the unique biodiversity of Yemen's islands to piloting climate-proofing strategies in Sudan and boosting conservation in Barbados, the agency said.

The announcement comes as environmental officials from over 100 countries prepare to gather in Monaco for the 10th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council from 20 to 22 February. This year's session focuses on the urgent challenge of climate change - specifically, the issue of mobilizing funds to realize a low-carbon world.

World Environment Day will be marked this year under the theme "Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy," with New Zealand as host.

ENDS

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