New earth champions to work against climate change

April 22nd, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Joydeep Gupta
Singapore, April 22 (IANS) Formula One racing will now take into account its effect on climate change, Prince Albert II of Monaco announced here Tuesday while receiving a prize from the UN Environment Programme as one of the seven Champions of the Earth 2008. Prince Albert II, whose little country hosts one of the famous races on the F1 circuit, has in recent years supported over 60 projects globally to tackle climate change and improve the environment. The greening of the F1 is his next big project, he promised.

The awards were presented on Earth Day, which also saw the opening of the two-day B4E (Business for the Environment) summit here, being attended by over 500 business leaders from more than 30 countries.

Balgis Osman-Elasha from Sudan, one of the award winners, said: “From being a normal person doing my routine work, I’ll now have to become an example to others. It’s a scary thing.”

Osman-Elasha, who has carried out ecological projects in the troubled region of Darfur, said that areas where traditional water harvesting and farming methods were still practised were less drought-prone than others in the region.

“The conflict destroyed our project,” she told IANS. “And it was the drought, caused by a worsening environment, that created the conflict.”

Atiq Rahman, who returned from a teaching job in Britain to set up a centre for sustainable development in his native Bangladesh over 20 years ago, said: “it’s a nice feeling to get credit after so many years.

“We’ve learnt about sustainable living from fishermen, farmers, illiterate mothers,” he added. “Now, with climate change, we can see that large decisions made by global systems can hurt poor persons very directly. This award will help me combat that.”

Liz Thompson, former environment minister of Barbados and another award winner, said she would use her new fame to “strive for better South-South cooperation, so that best practices are better known”.

Talking about the impact of climate change in her country, Thompson said: “I can see the erosion on the coastline every day (due to rising sea level, one of the effects of global warming). The marine habitat is already being affected. That affects tourism, which in turn affects the entire economy.”

“Climate change represents a very real threat to the daily lives of our people.”

Other award winners were former prime minister of Yemen Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, Senator Timothy E. Wirth of the US and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

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