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Press Release announcing the winners of Zayed Prize 2nd Cycle, Dubai

Saturday 13th of December 2003

The International Jury of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment for the Second Cycle (2003) met on Saturday, 13 December 2003 at the Emirates Towers Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The following Jury Members were present:
The TAC met on 16-19 October 2000 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and examined over 200 nominations. The TAC members were:

1 H.E. Dr. Klaus Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP Chairman
2 H.E. Mr. Hamad A. Al Midfaa, UAE Minister of Health UAE Rep.
3 Prof. Mostafa K. Tolba, President of Intl. Env. & Develop. Center (Egypt)
4 Dr. Robert Watson, Head of Env. Dept., World Bank (USA)
5 Dr.Mahmood Abdulraheem, Regional Director of UNEP Rapporteur On the Phone Via Tele-Conferencing:
6 Ms. Fiona McConnell, World Business Council for Sustainable Develop., UK
7 Ms. Yolanda Kakabadse, President of IUCN (Equador)
8 Prof. James Gustave Speth, Yale Univ. (USA)

The chairman opened the meeting by welcoming Jury members, emphasizing the importance of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment as a major contribution of the United arab Emirates towards environmental integrity and sustainable development.

In the general round of discussion, it was emphasized that the Zayed prize represents the highest valued environmental award world wide and it is important to maintain the high standard and credibility it deserves. This can be achieved by selecting truly outstanding personalities and organizations that hold so fine reputation and qualifications that the award would be immediately recognized by the global environment and science community;

After discussing the report of the Technical Advisory Committee, the Jury agreed that the prize should be classified into three award categories of the Prize, rather than first, second and third Prize as follows:

I Global leadership for environment
II Scientific and/or technological achievement in environment
III Environmental action leading to positive change in society

Other considerations that were emphasized included:

1.The need to ensure gender and geographical balance
2. At least one candidate to be selected from the region, if this is possible without jeopardizing the high standard of achievements required.
3. Nobel and other major Prizes Laureates should be given low priority as potential candidates for the Zayed Prize, except in the specific cases where the Prize awarded was for outstanding achievement areas out of environment arena;
4. Ministers and government officials currently holding office with environment / development portfolios are not to be nominated as candidates for the Zayed Prize;
Selection of Candidates

Category I: Winner is awarded US$500,000 plus the Trophy plus the Zayed Prize Diploma.

Following open discussion, the Chairman invited recommendations for the first category, emphasizing that the Technical Advisory Committee short-listed 4 candidates.
After considering the achievements of the nominees on the basis of the selection criteria, including the political and social considerations, the Jury added one more candidate and short-listed 3 candidates and presented their names to H.H. the Patron.
H.H. the Patron and the Jury discussed the short list thoroughly and agreed to the following:

The Zayed International Prize for the Environment recognises global leadership in the area of the environment and sustainable development. In this media dominated world, it is not just statesmen and women who drive awareness and change, but also the world’s broadcasters and newspapers.

In this field, the Zayed Prize jury considers that one media organization stands apart for its commitment, breadth of coverage and dedication to addressing global, regional and national environmental concerns. The BBC, with its BBC World Service Radio broadcasting in over 40 languages, BBC World Television and BBC Online Internet service, has over many years brought these compelling issues into the living rooms of the globe. Its environmental coverage, both in hard-hitting news, features and documentaries, cuts across all networks and all programmes.

The BBC has also demonstrated its commitment to environment issues at home through the organization’s own sustainable development strategy aimed at reducing energy consumption and waste in its day to day operations. Its commitment was clearly demonstrated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The BBC not only broadcast and reported in depth on the event, but its Earth Summit debate, co-produced with US and South African television partners, was widely applauded.

A key commitment has been the five times a week broadcast of the series Earth Report, The series, broadcast on the BBC since 1997, reaches nearly 300 million homes world-wide and around one million hotel bedrooms in 200 countries and territories. In December 2003, the BBC broadcast its 300th Earth Report, with a programme covering the devastating impact of industrial soya cultivation in the Brazilian Amazon.The series and its monthly interactive reports have not only shocked and entertained but brought about real change by inspiring businesses, NGOs and governments to adopt more environmentally friendly technologies, life-styles and policies.
The Patron and the Jury believe that these great achievements fulfill the Zayed Prize objectives and fall within the environment and development philosophy of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan, President of the UAE.

Category II: Winner is awarded US$300,000 plus the Trophy plus the Zayed Prize Diploma

The Jury considered the shortlist put forward by the TAC and their recommendations and re-emphasized that the selection should send a signal that scientific achievements, including those in social sciences, are recognised.

The Jury discussed the possible themes and decided that, since the Zayed Foundation is organizing a conference on Atmospheric Pollution next February, then the focus should be on the Atmosphere. Also the most prominent nominee in Category II was Prof. Godwin Obasi, who headed the WMO for 20 years. They thought that the most important achievement in the field of Atmosphere is the establishment and work of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC was established as a forum for scientists to find out the facts about Climate Change and to determine the environmental and health impact. This Panel’s preliminary report had led to the decision of the UN General Assembly to start negotiations towards the international convention on Climate Change which was approved in the Earth Summit Summit which took place in Rio de Janeiro (1992). This is the most successful UN Convention so far among the three conventions of the Rio Summit of 1992. The IPCC is still working hard and producing more and more accurate data every year.

The Jury went back to the history of IPCC and found that it was established mainly by two leaders, Prof. Godwin Obasi, who was the Secretary General of WMO and Prof. Mostafa Tolba, who was the Executive Director of UNEP. The first scientific committee was headed by Prof. Bert Bolin. Accordingly, the Jury agreed that the prize for the 2nd category would be shared by the three professors who worked together to establish and activate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These areProfessor Godwin Obasi from Nigeria, Professor Mostafa Kamal Tolba from Egyptand Professor Bert Bolinfrom Sweden. Prof. Obasi was Secretary General of the WMO for over 20 years and Prof. Tolba was the UNEP Executive Director for over 20 years as well. This in itself is a strong indicator that they were doing so well that governments kept re-electing them for new terms for that long. Prof. Bolin was the first chairperson of the scientific committee of IPCC, yet he has a life long of achievements as a professor in Stockholm University.

Category III: Winner is awarded US$200,000 plus the Trophy plus the Zayed Prize Diploma

In recognition of the important role of civil society and NGOs in shaping the course and outcome of the environment protection efforts and in recognition of the short list given by the TAC which included 6 individuals and one organization, the Jury decided to award this prize to two activists, demonstrating the importance of the role of NGOs and the civil society in advancing the global environmental agenda. These are Dr.Badria Al Awadhi from Kuwait and Prof. Jamal Safi from Palestine.
Dr . Badria Al Awadhi is an outstanding lawyer, outstanding in Law and environmental achievements , studied the International Law in London University. In 1975, she had PhD from London on Legal Aspects of Maritime Pollution In The Arabian (Persian) Gulf.
At the international level, Dr. Badria is a member in a number of International organizations such as International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), International Law Association, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), established at Kuwait University in 2001. She also served as the General Coordinator for ROPME for over 10 years. As an NGO, she is a founding member of the Kuwait Environment Protection Society and served as Secretary general for the Society for over 10 years. She is a Global 500 laureate. Since 1975, she published several books and articles on various issues including the environment, human rights, women & children rights and books for environmental awareness designed for children.
Among the books published: International Law in Times of Peace and War With comparative Study of Islamic Law and its Application in Kuwait, Legal Views on National, Regional and International Events and on the implementation of the Law of the Sea in the Gulf Area.
The Jury thought that she is one of very few women from the Gulf region who were involved in deliberations and discussions at the regional and global level that led to improvements in international and regional legal mechanisms for environmental protection and sustainable development.

In the late 1980s,Prof. Jamal M. Safi recognized the poor health and environmental and protection situation in the Palestinian territory (Gaza Strip and West Bank). Unlike many others he decided to care abut this situation, and, as a consequence, he founded the Environmental Protection and Research Institute in Gaza City. He started to submit proposals for applied and fundamental research projects which were suited to contribute to the improvement of the health and environmental protection situation in his country. His grant applications to different international organizations were highly successful during the last about thirteen years. In the research projects, among other, Prof. Safi developed methods for screening blood samples in the Palestinian hospitals’ blood banks for hepatitis and other infectious diseases, for screening the environment for insects and their larvae which convey infectious diseases, for screening soils and crops for heavy metals, for the use of sustainable agricultural techniques, and for bio remediation of polluted (saline) waters. One of the main aspects of these scientific and technical developments was that they had to be simply and easy to apply so that they could be used by people with limited training in an low-tech environment. In addition, Prof. Safi and his coworkers offered training courses to improve the skills of his compatriots who were to use the techniques developed in his institute.

Prof. Safi’s projects over the years have substantially improved environmental health within the Palestinian community. The formerly burdensome housefly and mosquito problems in the Gaza Strip have each been reduced 5-fold. The prevalence of hepatitis B was reduced from 6% to 3.3% and hepatitis C from 2.6 to 0.4%. Overall childhood lead poisoning was reduced from about 5% to 0.3%. Overall frequency of parasitic enteropathogens was reduced substantially; ascariasis, for example, was reduced from a prevalence of 60% to 37% in these children, and the density of eggs in soil from 10 eggs per 100g of soil to 3.3 over a five-year period. The cyanobacteria mats that were developed degraded aromatic petroleum-model compounds by 99% and aliphatic petroleum-model compounds by 86% within 100 days. Pesticide residuals in fruits and vegetables that are marketed in Gaza proved to lie within internationally acceptable limits. Heavy metal content in Gaza-produced compost over a period of five years and in the plants and groundwater associated with this fertilizer remained below internationally accepted standards. The organoclays that were developed blocked leaching of pesticides into groundwater almost completely. Trainees completing Prof. Safi’s courses included 150 school teachers, 120 agricultural engineers and 15 specialists in refugee health. These remarkable accomplishments are outstanding under any conditions and are truly remarkable, considering the difficult circumstances under which they were performed. Prof. Safi’s work has made a real difference in the lives of the Palestinian people and in their environment.

The Jury believed that he is one of a few in this region who succeeded in putting science into action at the grass – root and community level.

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