UN 'earth champion' prize highlights the struggle of Bangladesh

By agency reporter
January 30, 2008

News that Dr Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), will receive the United Nations Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth Award 2008 for the Asia Pacific region has been welcomed by Christian Aid, which works with BCAS.

The annual prize rewards individuals from around the globe who have made a significant contribution to the protection and sustainable management of the Earth’s environment and natural resources.

Dr Rahman is described as "an eloquent and influential advocate for sustainable development in Bangladesh - a country highly vulnerable to climate change and flooding."

In the award letter, Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director, said: "With your national and international experience in sustainable development, and environment and resource management, you are one of the leading specialists in the field. At the helm of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), you transformed the NGO into a leading think-tank in South Asia on sustainable development issues."

BCAS has been a partner of the UK-based international development NGO Christian Aid since 2005 and its programmes are to be featured in the 2008 Christian Aid Week materials, aimed at educating the British public and churches on justice issues.

Tatjana Haque, Christian Aid’s representative in Bangladesh, welcomed the award. "We are very pleased that Dr Rahman has been honoured in this way and very proud to be a partner of BCAS. BCAS has been supporting our existing partners with climate change orientation and we are looking forward to working with them on climate change adaptation."

Dr Rahman was one of seven award recipients worldwide, who also include Helen Clark, prime minister of New Zealand and Prince Albert II of Monaco. Past winners include H.E. Mikhail Gorbachev of the Russian Federation and Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States.

No monetary reward is attached to the prize – each laureate receives a trophy made of recycled metal especially designed by the Kenyan sculptor Kioko representing the fundamental elements for life on earth: sun, air, land and water.

The announcement of the award winners came ahead of the 10th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council, which will bring together over one hundred ministers from around the world in Monaco on 20-22 February 2008.

This year’s Governing Council will also focus on the urgent challenge of climate change, specifically the issue of mobilizing finance to realize a low carbon world.

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