New York / Nairobi -- Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, has received the United Nations 2013 Champions of the Earth award. The prize - the UN system's highest environmental accolade - is awarded to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.
Petrini is recognized for his pioneering work over the past three decades to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the world's agriculture and food supply 'one bite at a time'. Slow Food has over 100,000 members and supporters in over 150 countries, defending local food traditions, supporting biodiversity, tackling food waste, and promoting small-scale quality food products.
He joins an eclectic group of Champions of the Earth laureates, including Brazil's Environment Minister, the developers of Google Earth, and a leading air pollution researcher, who received their awards at a special ceremony in New York organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Petrini founded the Slow Food movement almost 30 years ago with the aim of reducing biodiversity loss, and reviving artisanal, resource-efficient food production techniques, which were at risk of dying out.
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity works in over 50 countries and involves over 10,000 small-scale food producers, promoting environmentally and culturally sustainable agriculture and fishing. It coordinates numerous projects in support of local communities, providing them with technical and financial assistance.
Petrini and his team also initiated the Ark of Taste project - a catalogue of well over 1000 forgotten or endangered food products from more than 75 countries.
Slow Food's A Thousand Gardens in Africa project currently active in 25 African countries, to actively support African communities in fighting for freedom from hunger, the right to food and food security.
Slow Food's Youth Network is actively involved in efforts to tackle food waste - including the popular 'Disco Soup' events. In France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA among other locations, 'Disco Soup' volunteers come together to cook free meals using good quality fruits, vegetables and other ingredients leftover from markets, businesses or households. DJs provide the background music for the chopping, peeling, and slicing, before the food is distributed locally.
'I am touched and honored to receive the prestigious Champions of the Earth award,' said Carlo Petrini.
'This award shows that the path taken by Slow Food over the past 27 years has profoundly changed the concept of gastronomy, by clearly linking it to environmental consciousness and protection. The entire organization works each day to ensure the world has a good, clean and fair food supply. I dedicate this precious recognition to all of these people,', he added.
Last year, UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other parteners launched the Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint campaign to galvanize widespread global, regional and national actions to reduce food waste and food loss.
A new UN report released this month shows that the economic costs of food waste to global food producers amounts to US $750 billion per year. An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes - or one third of all food produced - is either wasted or lost annually.
More information on Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint is available at www.thinkeatsave.org
Other winners of the 2013 Champions of the Earth award include: Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment; Jack Dangermond, founder of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo from the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.
'While a green economy transition is underway, the challenge is to accelerate and scale-up this transformation. The Champions of the Earth play a vital role in this process,' said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
'They are inspirational leaders and visionaries who have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate the political will, fresh thinking and creative solutions crucial to creating and implementing successful environmental policies and initiatives across the globe,' he added.
'Whether improving the management of our natural resources, demonstrating new ways to tackle climate change and food waste, taking uncompromising business decisions based on sustainability models or raising awareness of emerging environmental challenges, Champions of the Earth should and do serve as an inspiration for transformative action across the world,' said Mr. Steiner.
The full list of 2013 Champions of the Earth winners is as follows.
Ms. Izabella Teixeira, Minister of Environment, Brazil is recognized for her key role in reversing deforestation in the Amazon and her role on high-level UN panels on sustainable development., According to government figures, Brazil has cut deforestation by 84 per cent over eight years, from an annual loss of over 27,000 sq km in 2004 to around 4,500 sq km in 2012. Apart from the prevention and control of deforestation, the land use planning policies implemented by Ms. Teixeira resulted in 250,000 sq km of conservation areas - the equivalent of 75 per cent of global forest protected areas.
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment is recognized for his work advocating a shift from the current global model of intensive resource consumption, including setting 2020 targets for the European Union to halve food waste and practically eliminate the need for landfills. His role in tackling resource inefficiencies across the food chain has contributed substantially to the ongoing UN campaign on food waste, Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint.
Brian McClendon, co-founder and VP of Google Earth is recognized for providing a powerful tool to monitor the state of the environment, allowing researchers to detect deforestation, classify land cover and estimate forest biomass and carbon and thus demonstrate the scale of problems and illustrate solutions. Google Earth, for example, was used to help rescue workers save more than 4,000 people after Hurricane Katrina and, in Australia, a scientist used the tool to discover a previously unknown coral reef in a region that had been identified for oil and gas development.
Jack Dangermond, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is recognized for his commitment to ensuring that international, research, education, and nonprofit organizations working in the fields of conservation and development have access to the best geospatial analytical and visualization technology. In 1989, the ESRI Conservation Program was started to change the way non-profit organizations carry out conservation missions. This program provides GIS software, data, and training, and helps to coordinate multi-organizational efforts
SCIENCE AND INNOVATION
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD was recognized for his pioneering work on black carbon, which included leading a team that first discovered widespread Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) and research into how cutting black carbon can significantly mitigate climate change. Dr. Ramanathan showed that ABCs led to large-scale dimming, decreased monsoon rainfall and rice harvest in India and played a dominant role in the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. A member of the Science Advisory Panel on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, he is now running Project Surya, which aims at reducing soot emissions from bio-fuel cooking in rural India.
INSPIRATION AND ACTION
Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food movement is recognized for his visionary work to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the world's agriculture and food supply 'one bite at a time'. Slow Food has over 100,00 members and supporters in over 150 countries, defending local food traditions, protecting local biodiversity and promoting small-scale quality products. Petrini is also a coordinator of National and International level research projects in the bioethical field. In 2012, Petrini was invited to speak at the Sustainable Development Dialogue on Food and Nutrition Security at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, Director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda is recognized for her work in the Sierra Gorda region of Central Mexico, which demonstrates how a broad range of advocacy, public education and income-generation approaches, can produce support healthy ecosystems and alleviate poverty. She was responsible for achieving Biosphere Reserve status for Sierra Gorda under an innovative public-private system. Through her work and advocacy, 33 per cent of the State of Querétaro is now protected as a Biosphere Reserve. Hundreds of families in Sierra Gorda now receive a total of over US$2 million from the sale of carbon credits.
Notes to Editors
About Champions of the Earth
Champions of the Earth, which was launched in 2005, is the UN's flagship environmental award. To date, it has recognized 59 individuals and organizations for their leadership, vision, inspiration and action on the environment. The list of previous Champions laureates include Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Chinese actress and environmental advocate Zhou Xun, the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and global music legend Angélique Kidjo.
Visit http://www.unep.org/champions/ for more details.
About Guangdong Wealth, Sponsor of the Champions of the Earth Awards
Guangdong Wealth Environmental Protection is a leading supplier of water purifying products and water treatment integrated solutions in China. The company practices a business model that puts social welfare before economic interests, using the concept 'let the sky be bluer and the water clearer'. The company invests in environmental scholarships for young university students, organizes clean-up operations, and donates tonnes of purifying tablets to tackle pollution in rivers in Guangdong and Beijing.