March 2, 2011

Najib Saab is Zayed International Prize Laureate

For Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change

Dubai, 2/3/2011

Najib Saab, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia magazine and Secretary General of Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), won Zayed International Prize for Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change in Society. He was among other laureates of Zayed International Prize announced in a press conference held today in Dubai: President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea for Global Leadership, Sir Partha Dasgupta for Scientific and Technological Achievements, and Dr. Mathis Wackernagel for Environmental Action. The winners will be honoured by the Patron, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a special Award Ceremony on March 14th at Dubai International Convention Center.

Zayed International Prize for Environment was established in 2001 by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to acknowledge the environmental commitment of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is worth $1 million, and is the most valuable environmental award in the world. Previous winners include Jimmy Carter, the former President of the United States, Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and UN special climate envoy.

Najib Saab

UAE Minister of Environment and Water Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd declared that Najib Saab was awarded for environmental action leading to positive change in society “because his influencial and highly successful Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia magazine triggered unprecedented environmental awareness at all levels, built a new relationship between the policy-makers and people of the Arab world with the issues of environment and sustainability, and placed the environment high on national and regional agendas.”

The International Jury said: “The magazine and Saab’s vision also acted as a spring board for a wider pan-Arab initiative which catalyzed in 2006 the establishment of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED). The organization soon developed into a leading think-tank, pivotal in shaping environmental policies, mainly through its independent annual reports on the state of the Arab environment.”

It added: “The magazine itself has evolved as key curriculum material for schools, and helped establish hundreds of school-based environment clubs. Meanwhile, twelve leading daily newspapers now publish a syndicated monthly environment column by Najib Saab, and a weekly or monthly environment page in association with AFED. Saab has produced and presented a series of powerful documentaries on environmental challenges in the Arab countries, which are broadcast frequently on national and regional television networks.”

The press release concluded: “An established architect who grew up in a publishing family, Najib Saab opted to leave a lucrative practice, devoting himself to advance the cause of environment in the Arab region. A Lebanese national who describes himself as globalist, he has done more than most to bring environment into the day to day discourse within governments, the private sector and among the public and grassroots in the Arab world.”

Lee Myung-bak

The International Jury said that Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea, “seized the moment of recent economic and financial crisis to commit his country to ‘Green Growth’, a new paradigm for economic development that binds together environment protection and economic prosperity, creating new growth engines and jobs through green technology and clean energy. President Lee’s vision and leadership was a central driver in transforming the Republic of Korea’s development path into a low carbon, resource efficient, and Green Economy.”

Partha Dasgupta

The Jury considered Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, as “one of the most outstanding environmental economists of his generation. An Indian national, he has been one of the leading economists making the link between sustainability and economics in many ways well before such work was fashionable or fully understood. He coined the term ‘inclusive wealth’ to spotlight the way conventional measures of wealth- primarily GDP- fail to capture natural capital or environmental assets.”

Mathis Wackernagel

The Jury also championed Dr. Mathis Wackernagel who “has, through the co-founding of the Global Footprint Network in 2003, translated the complexity of humanity’s impact on the environment and natural resources into a more understandable and actionable form. The concept of ecological limits and relating the demands of human beings to the planet’s available ecological resources has attracted and is catalyzing action among governments, business and civil society. Under Swiss-born Dr. Wackernagel’s leadership, the Footprint is now recognized as a leading and highly comprehensible indicator of sustainability.”

The International Jury

The International Jury for the Fifth Cycle of Zayed International Prize for Environment was chaired by Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, a former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a former German Environment Minister. Other Jury members were Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water in the UAE, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, Dr. Mostafa Kamal Tolba, World renowned scientist and former Executive Director of UNEP, and Dr. Oktay Tabasaran, the pioneer of environmental science and the 5th World Water Forum Secretary General.

For More Information Please Contact:

Dr. Meshgan Al Awar
Secretary General
Zayed International Prize for the Environment
Mob: + 971 50 4537733
Ph: + 971 4 3326666
Fax: + 971 4 3326777