Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov
Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor of the City of Moscow, is a leader committed to sustainable urban development and whose campaign promises have already begun to materialize.
He has removed environmentally unsafe industries from the capital, and established an environmental procurator's office as well as a special police department for environmental protection for the Moscow region.
He has contributed to the stabilization of air pollution from cars by improving fuel quality, equipment of municipal transport by installing catalytic converters, and the flow of traffic by altering the City's routes.
He has placed a full ban on the use of leaded fuel and has set new standards on the construction of ring highways, which must meet certain environmental requirements. He also established a new policy whereby the use of coal in thermal power stations and by large industries has been replaced by natural gas. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced significantly.
He has enforced the law requiring the renewal of purifying systems in industrial plants and has changed the way in which galvanic processes are undertaken and centralized the use of galvanic waste, thus reducing the level of heavy metals in the Moscow River.
He introduced environmental education in the City's secondary schools and institutions of higher learning.
Yongshun Ma was a lumberman in Heilongjiang Province of China. When he retired in 1982, many people encouraged him to relax during his last days. His response was always "I cannot until I have paid off a debt".
As a lumberman, he suffered from a sense of guilt, and reproached himself that if he had not overlogged, if he had paid more attention to protecting the environment, there would not have been so much environmental degradation. He decided to devote the last part of his life to the protection of the environment, and to plant 36,500 trees to make up for those he had cut down. He calculated that the difference would be 8,180 trees beyond the 28,320 trees he had planted over the last 21 years. Every season, people would see him planting trees.
In 1991, when he reached the age of 78, he counted that there were around 1,000 trees left to pay off his debt. He convinced all of family -16 people spanning three generations - to plant trees on holidays. At the end of that spring, at last his debt was paid off. By 1996, he had planted 40,000 trees and built a breeding base for trees of high quality.
Motivated by his actions, more and more people in the region are planting trees each year and the forest is growing at an ever increasing rate. He has taught others how to breed and plant successfully, and under his guidance, his students' tree planting efforts have a success rate of 95 per cent.
Today, at 84 you can still see Yongshun Ma, spade in hand, stirring the black soil, planting trees.
Anne Mearns has worked for more than 15 years to improve the environment of her community. In September 1982, she established Wilger Veld and Youth Conservation Clubs in approximately 50 schools throughout South Africa. From 1982 to 1997, more than 6,000 children joined the Club whose membership has expanded to include branches in England and other countries in Africa. In 1989, she began a tree-planting project through which more than 5,300 trees have been planted to date. The same year, she contacted the Council of Benoni to rehabilitate the Bullfrog pan, which was filled with rubbish - at a cost of more than Rand 5 million. The pan is back to its normal status and she and the youth saved some 50,000 bullfrogs from tarred roads and put them back in wetlands.
In 1990, she organized a Wetland Symposium for councils in Gauteng Province, which was attended by some 300 people. In 1992, she began a community vegetable garden project in the townships. In 1996, Mearns wrote an environmental policy for the Greater Benoni City Council. In January 1997, she completed a management plan for two wetlands, and in April, she established the Greater Benoni Environmental Society.
She has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes and ahs been profiled in several newspapers and magazines. She is the recipient of a number of awards including the President's Trophy from Keep South Africa Beautiful, the Visionary Award from the Benoni Aurora Rotary Club, and the Van Ryn Rotary Award for service above self.
As an officer with the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Don Merton roams the forests of the world devising plans to improve the survival of bird species facing extinction. He has contributed to the rescue of more than a dozen, including the Mauritan echo parakeet, the Chatham Islands black robin and the New Zealand saddleback. No other conservationist in the world has been directly involved in as many bird rescue programmes, said Bird Life International, the global agency responsible for bird conservation.
In the Seychelles, he helped devise techniques to save the magpie-robin from extinction. Slow breeders that fed often on the ground, the birds had been decimated by feral cats. By November 1992, despite a successful programme to eradicate predators, their numbers dwindled to 25. Conservationists turned to Merton, and after observing the robins, he discovered that the native vegetation in the birds' habitat had virtually disappeared and the forest did not provide enough safe nesting places. He suggested adjustments to supplementary feeding, positioning of nesting boxes and how to exclude other species from food and nesting sites. Over three years, the species made a spectacular recovery and today there are some 60 robins in existence.
In Australia, Victorian zoologists are using management techniques modelled on Merton's to rescue the helmeted honeyeater. In 1994, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds awarded him a medal for his contribution to species survival.
Dr. Zygfryd Nowak
Dr. Zygfryd Nowak stands out as a champion of cleaner production - the preventive environmental strategy aimed at reducing pollution before it generation. His technical knowledge and his political astuteness combined with his energy, foresight and humour have resulted in change.
In 1989, he attended the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) first High Level Seminar on Cleaner Production. Impressed by the cleaner production potential, he started promoting it in Poland.
His achievements include: the completion of the 31st training programme of the Polish Cleaner Production School (each session trains 25-30 companies, for a total of 1,025 cleaner production experts from 512 manufacturing companies and from 240 service sector companies); the application of more than 125 companies for a Cleaner Production Certificate citing that they have introduced an environmental management system on this particular strategy; and the reduction of environmental loads in electricity, heat and water consumption, solid waste, gas and waste water disposal which have led to an estimated annual savings of US$4.5 million.
To catalyze cleaner production in Poland, he established the Policy Cleaner Production Movement, which promotes management systems, which use cleaner production as a tool. He was Chairman of the Economic Council of the Governor of the Katowice Region, Polipotentiary for Clean Production to the Polish Minister of Industry and Trade and President of the Cleaner Production Club.
Oeuvre de Bienfaisance pour Haiti (OBH)Ninety five per cent of Haiti's surface was once covered by forests. Today, this has been reduced to a paltry 0.5 per cent. Oeuvre de Bienfaisance our Haiti (OBH), established in 1992 and supported by the European Commission, aims to prevent soil erosion by planting once or twice a year 25,000 to 30,000 trees, strengthen the position of women, provide the peasants with a sustainable income; promote the use of neem seeds; and to control deforestation. To date, 225,000 trees have been planted, namely need and casuarina, and despite the area's arid climate (500 m per annum), more than 100,000 trees are still growing with heights of up to 8 metres. Other achievements include a marked decrease in soil erosion; the use of some trees as lumber; the use of seeds for medicinal and other purposes; paying same wage to both men and women counter to Haitian tradition' an increase in the social status of women; and bringing to public notice the ecological benefits of the project. OBH consistently holds discussions with the peasants and provides information to counter the traditional belief that "the tree is the enemy of the peasant". By paying for the planting and watering of the slips and the leasing of the land, OBH also provides employment for women, which not only helps them support themselves and their children, but also boosts their self-confidence and independence. In future, OBH hopes to provide additional income by encouraging the production of neem-oil as a natural insecticide and to control woodcutting.
Yiannakis D. Potamitis
For more than 40 years, Yiannakis Potamitis has been one of the most active environmentalists on the island of Cyprus. He has spent much of his life establishing environmental pressure groups and clubs. It is generally accepted that it is through his work that people in Cyprus have become aware of the need to protect the environment. In 1949, he founded the country's oldest environmental organization, Orivatikos Nature Friends Association, which has 120 registered member organizations with thousands of followers. In 1972, he became President of the Environmental Committee of Limassol, which he also founded. He is the first President of the Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organizations of Cyprus, which was established in 1988 at his initiative. He was the leader of the campaign, which saved from development the main green area of the cost of Limassol. He is also the initiator of the campaign whose aim is not only to protect the coastal environment but to prevent any construction on the coast and to keep the beaches open to the public. In an effort to raise environmental awareness, Potamitis has written hundreds of articles and has given numerous lectures on the environment. He has also given countless radio and TV interviews on pressing environmental issues.
P. B. K. L. Agyirey-Kwakye
In March 1994, Agyirey-Kwakye, a then secondary school student with some experience in tree planting and farming, due to his association with his forester father, moved to Kumikrom in Asamonkese District where the main occupation of the young people was the cutting of wood for fuel. Upon his arrival there in 1994, and knowing that the community did not have any knowledge about tree planting and the need to reforest felled areas, he set up a nursery with various species, but primarily eucalyptus trees. When the seedlings were ready for planting, he set up an agroforestry demonstration farm by planting between the trees plantain, pawpaw and cocoyams. He gave some of the trees to landless farmers for planting. Six months later, when it was time to harvest, the trees had grown significantly. This created the impression in the community that tree planting was possible and that results could be achieved quickly. In 1996, he organized a group of farmers, including 23 women, who were interested in planting nitrogen trees which they could use for firewood and as forage for their livestock. He supplied 14 farmers with 2,000 eucalyptus seedlings, which they planted on their farms. By the end of 1996, 290 farmers had submitted their names to be supplied with seedlings. He is preparing to supply 10,000 seedlings to farmers in 1998. All of these activities have contributed to renewable energy, soil conservation and environmental education.
|Ecole Propre/Ecole Verte|
Ecole Propre/Ecole Verte is an environmental education programme, which was created in 1992, as a pilot project, in four primary schools in Conakry, Guinea. Today, the project has taken root in 92 schools with 20,000 students participating. Its objectives are to: encourage schools to play an active role in promoting hygiene and environmental protection; to get students to spread the environmental message in their schools, families, neighbourhoods and villages; and to encourage parents and the community to take action.
Through their ecological clubs, the students ensure that the classrooms, latrines and yard are clean, and that flowerbeds are well managed. They control the sale of food around the school, and educate the community using plays, films, debates, radio and TV programmes and competitions. They publish a bulletin which is distributed to 25,000 subscribers regionally, nationally and internationally, and the content, including articles, cartoons, word and visual games, all dealing wit h the betterment of the environment, are produced by the students.
This programme has elicited great interest from a number of organizations, including the Canadian Study and International Cooperation Centre, which manifest their support by giving financial aid. Regular awareness campaigns and practical demonstrations are also held by the students. The success of this programme is evidenced by the concrete actions, which have been undertaken by parents and students alike. Under the banner Ecole/Quartier, the project has expanded to include other districts and villages.
Hellenic Marine Environment Protection
The Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA) Junior aims to promote the voluntary participation of children, between the ages of eight and 15, in the protection of seas and beaches. HELMEPA has an education programme, which operates in 12 geographical areas of Greece. With the support of the Ministry of Education, HELMEPA implements its programme whereby students are organized into groups of 10 and are asked to execute during the year, 12 of the following activities: voluntary clean-ups of beaches, lakes, rivers or streams; recycling of cans, paper or glass in their schools; creation and dissemination of information material; presentations at schools or at parent associations; publication of a newsletter; writing letters to the local press; presentation of group activities to the media, dissemination of information material to visitors in their area; cooperation with other HELMEPA Junior groups; creation/distribution of posters; production of audio materials with environmental messages; development of comic books starring seabirds and other marine animals; production of a weekly or monthly radio show; and conducting polls among the local population. HELMEPA produces a newsletter, which reports on the progress of the groups, and provides teachers with updated information on the marine environment and its integration into the curriculum. HELMEPA set up a permanent and mobile exhibition. More than 170,000 children have visited the exhibit to which they are transported free of charge.