21 November 2001


NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize Ceremony, delivered by Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), New York, on 19 November:

It gives me great pleasure to recognize the achievements of this year's winner of the United Nations Environment Programme Sasakawa Environment Prize, Mr. Huey Johnson, whose unflinching support of environmental causes for more than 40 years has won global admiration.

I am also pleased that Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan was able to join you this evening and deliver this year's Pastrana Borrero Lecture. Her Majesty, much like the former President of Colombia, in whose memory the Lecture was established, has been the driving force behind many environmental initiatives that have left a positive legacy not only in their respective nations, but internationally as well.

The quality of human life ultimately depends on the quality of the environments in which humans live, and the ability of those environments to provide food, shelter, jobs and sustenance. If we want to improve standards of living, we will undermine our own efforts if what we do in the name of peace and progress damages the earth's precious ecosystems and natural resources. Today, the warnings of ecological crisis are loud and clear; we must respond more aggressively, more promptly and more globally than we have to date.

One person who has taken this challenge to heart is this year's winner of the Sasakawa Prize. Huey Johnson recognized long ago the inequitable distribution of the earth's natural resources, and devoted his career to developing better ways to understand and manage those resources. He has understood that responsibility for conservation and environmental protection lies with every single member of the human community. And he has founded numerous organizations -- the Trust for Public Land, the Resource Renewal Institute, the Green Belt Movement International, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Environmental Liaison Centre International -- that have developed policies and crafted programmes that have been emulated throughout the world.

His commitment to making this world a better place is an inspiration to us all. It is with great pleasure that I call upon the Executive Director of UNEP, and the Director of International Affairs of the Nippon Foundation, to present, on my behalf, the 2001 UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize to Mr. Huey Johnson. Let us congratulate him for all he has done to advance sustainable development and to cultivate a new ethic of stewardship for the earth and its inhabitants. Thank you very much.

* *** *