UN launches new ‘environmental emergency’ award

November 18th, 2008 - 3:49 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Nov 18 (DPA) The UN Monday launched a new award to honour efforts towards environmental emergencies in an attempt to encourage action to curtail the impacts of man-made and natural disasters.The non-monetary Green Star Awards will first be awarded next May in Brussels to charities, government and companies that help prevent and respond to disasters that can cause severe damage to the environment.

“The award will promote preparedness for the environmental impacts of disasters on human lives,” said Matthew Conway, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

His agency, along with the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Green Cross International organization, will sponsor the prize.

Conway said a common problem during disasters is the impact on the environment, such as a storm damaging an industrial zone with potentially dangerous chemicals.

Investing in “the planet’s ecosystem infrastructure, from forests and soils to wetlands and coral reefs,” can help mitigate “the worst of the impacts while also being a major adaptation policy against climate change,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.

The UN noted that the hardest-hit areas were poorer countries with limited resources to invest in preventing and handling environmental emergencies, especially in times of a humanitarian crisis.

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