Sustainability efforts recognised by Zayed environmental awards
DUBAI // The tireless efforts of people who have dedicated their lives to environmentalism and working for a sustainable future were honoured yesterday by the Zayed International Foundation for the Environment.
In a glittering ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, the sixth year of the event saw awards given out for leadership, scientific research and environmental action.
Prince Albert II of Monaco received an award for his global leadership in environmental and sustainable development.
“I am honoured to have been selected for this award,” he said during a short acceptance speech on behalf of all the winners.
“Environmental protection is too important and there are too many problems and issues we need to overcome to ever think we can rest.
“This rare opportunity and recognition should be an incentive to persevere.”
The monarch praised the work done by the UAE to promote sustainable development, which was in keeping with the vision of the founding President, Sheikh Zayed.
“We should not be so selfish and only think of what we need today, but instead look at what we will be leaving behind for future generations,” he said, adding that investment in scientific programmes was crucial to meet the environmental challenges the world faced.
The Zayed International Foundation for the Environment aims to provide a financial and moral reward to people who make an outstanding contribution to the environment and sustainable development.
It also organises a range of events and activities in the UAE and internationally to raise awareness of sustainable living.
Dr Ashok Khosla, the founder of Development Alternative Group, works in his home country, India, to develop sustainable businesses that help people escape poverty.
At the Dubai event he was awarded in the scientific and/or technological achievement in the environment category, which comes with a US$300,000 (Dh1.1 million) prize.
“I’m delighted to have been given this award,” he said after receiving the prize.
“We will use this money to help fund a variety of projects to improve water, sanitation and job creation, among other things.
“I’ve been working for 40 years in sustainable development in India and we have faced many challenges, but these kinds of awards help to raise the profile of the work that we and other organisations do.”
Sharing the award was Malaysian Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, who has been instrumental in the need for action to prevent destruction of ecosystems.
The category for environmental action leading to positive change, with a prize of US$200,000, was awarded to Paula Caballero Gomez of Colombia.
She was recognised for creating and promoting sustainable development goals (SDG), which help to set up a method of implementing development.
“This is a wonderful privilege and it’s recognition of the transformative potential of the concept of sustainable development goals,” she said.
“There is greater understanding now that the future of the planet and the well-being of mankind requires that we look after the planet.
“But the challenges are there from those sectors that do not fully comprehend the need to mainstream the environment to other sectors, the need to ensure sustainability is at the core of development.
“The challenge now is the implementation of the SDGs.”
Ms Gomez called for people to work more closely together rather than in isolation and see how sustainability links to areas such as health, energy and water.
“I certainly hope that this prize and the spotlight it provides will help people understand how SDGs are unique tools on how we approach development,” she said.
Sharing the award for environmental action leading to positive change was Swiss Dr Luc Hoffman for his work studying waterland bird populations.
A new element for the seventh cycle of the award will be the introduction of a young scientist award category.
The Zayed International Prize for the Environment was launched in 1999 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
It was inspired by the example of Sheikh Zayed who was a committed environmentalist.
Mohammed Ahmed bin Fahad, chairman of the foundation, praised the role played by the leadership of the UAE when it comes to the environment.
“Thanks to their wise leadership, we are making tremendous progress in this field,” he said.
“Today we honour the pioneers in these fields who have done much to help the cause of environmentalism and sustainability.”