His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President & Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today (February 6, 2006) gave away the third Zayed Prize for Global Leadership for the Environment to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a glittering ceremony held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The ceremony was attended by their highnesses the rulers of various emirates, representatives from world leaders, heads of states, 160 ministers from over 130 countries, more than 1,500 delegates, first undersecretaries, CEOs, directors, senior decision makers, the international press and other dignitaries.
The glittering awards ceremony was followed by the formal opening of 9th Governing Council Special Session/Global Ministerial Environment Forum 2006 (GCSS/GMEF) meetings that begin their session tomorrow, (February 7, 2006).
The ministerial level discussions seek to address energy and environment, tourism and environment, chemicals and environment, and environment governance including issues of relevance to the outcome of the 2005 World Summit of the United Nations. The meetings will conclude on February 9, 2006 with a closing banquet on the theme of sustainable tourism.
Rich tributes were paid to the Father of the Nation, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had laid the foundation for environmental protection way back in 1946, even before the formation of the country.
Among those present included the Organizing Committee members H.E. Dr. Hamad Al Midfa, UAE Minister of Health, Chairman of the FEA Board; H.E. Brigadier Saeed Matar Bin Bleila, Director, Naturalization and Residency Administration, Dubai; H.E. Matar M Al Tayer, Director Roads & Transport Authority; General Dhahi Khalfan Tameem, Commander in Chief of Dubai Police; H.E. Saeed Mohamed Al Tayer, Director General, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA); and Dr. Mohamed Bin Fahad, Chairman, and General Coordinator Zayed Prize.
The executive committee included Dr. Mohamed Bin Fahad, Chairman, Zayed Prize and General Coordinator of the event; Dr. Salem Messri Al Dhahiri, Deputy Chairman, Member; Dr. Meshgan Al Awar, Deputy General Coordinator, Secretary General, Member; Mr. Ahmad Al Goud, Head of Media, Member; Dr. Saad Abdulrazzaq, Head of Sponsorship, Member; Mr. Ali Al Najjar, Head of Hospitality and Finance, Member; Eng. Abdalla Abdul Reheem, Head of Transportation, Member; Lt. Colonel Ahmed Rafea, Head of Security, Member; Dr. Khalid Ahmed Omar, Head of Protocol, Member; Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad among others.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, upon receiving the Zayed Prize, said: “It is an honour to be in the United Arab Emirates to receive this prize, named after Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose commitment to the environment was well known here and around the world. I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al-Maktoum for his vision in creating this award, and his generosity in serving as its patron.
“To stand here in the UAE, and especially in Dubai, is to stand on the soil of one of the world’s great economic miracles. It is a country whose leaders and people have learned the importance of using scarce resources efficiently. It is a land that knows the importance of human and intellectual capital. Here in the heart of the world’s oil region, Dubai itself derives less than 10% of its income from oil. And it is a civilization grounded in strong cultural and spiritual values, which recognizes that sustainable development will not succeed without caring for and conserving the world’s natural capital,” Mr. Annan remarked.
Klaus Toepfer, Chair of the Jury and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programmed (UNEP), said: “The jury was faced with many outstanding candidates for the Zayed Prizes. But when you look at the overall global impact on politics, business, science and civil society of Annan’s environment and sustainable development-related initiatives, we came to the conclusion he is deservedly the global winner. The other winners are also outstanding in their own right,” he added.
“The Zayed Prize jury unanimously agreed to bestow this prestigious prize for Global Leadership on the Secretary General for his life long dedication to fighting poverty, to sustainable development and to the environment,” Mr. Toepfer observed.
Mr. Toepfer said: “The Zayed Prize is valued as the top environmental award in the world today and is given to individuals or organizations that have contributed to improving the environment at the global, regional and local levels. This year, the prestigious Zayed Prize for Global Leadership for the Environment 2005 goes to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for his ground-breaking work to protect the environment through various projects. The foremost among them is his call for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report of 2005 which is the first-ever international scientific assessment of the health of the world’s ecosystems.”
Other reports requested by the UN Secretary General in the run up to the 2005 World Summit in New York included ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility’ and ‘In Larger Freedom’. The jury stated in its citation that “Annan has emphasised the importance of the multilateral system in all facets of his work, convinced that global environmental challenges require global cooperation.
Dr. Mohamed Bin Fahad, Chairman of the Zayed Prize Higher Committee, said: “The Zayed International Prize for the Environment has been instituted to reiterate the UAE’s commitment to environmental protection. The Award recognizes and encourages environmental achievements that support and promote the implementation of Agenda 21 in line with the vision and philosophy of Sheikh Zayed. The Prize also supports the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of Sustainable Development.”
Dr. Bin Fahad said, “We are proud to host the 9th UNEP GCSS/ GMEF 2006 for the first time in the Middle East. Dubai is witnessing phenomenal economic progress and a construction boom. However we have chosen to follow the path of progress with an eye on environmental protection, making sure that the legacy of our dear leader Sheikh Zayed is kept alive through the path he has shown us.”
The second and third categories of Zayed Prize winners were also awarded. The 2nd Category Award – “Scientific and or Technological Achievement in Environment” - was conferred upon the 1,360 experts involved with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report.
The 3rd Category Award – “Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change in Society” - was jointly shared between Angela Cropper, co-President of the Cropper Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, and Emil Salem, the former Indonesian State Minister for Population and Environment and the chair of the board of trustees for numerous Indonesian environmental organizations.
Dr. Bin Fahad said members of the Zayed Prize Higher Committee hoped that the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment would use the granted award money to disseminate the great achievements and make them available to the entire world community. He added, “The HC also hopes this award will be an incentive to Mr. Annan, Ms. Cropper and Professor Salem to push for more sustainable life on earth."
Previous global leadership winners have been the former US President Jimmy Carter and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for their global media commitment to environment and sustainable development issues.