Press Releases

    21 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the 2002 United Nations Environment Programme "Sasakawa Environment Prize" ceremony, delivered by S. Iqbal Riza, Under-Secretary-General and Chef de Cabinet, New York, 19 November:

    The annual presentation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to protection of the global environment. This year's winner, Ashok Khosla, has been at the forefront of sustainable development for nearly 40 years. He has influential academic work to his credit, and was among the first to teach about the environment at Harvard University. He was the founding director of India's Office of Environmental Planning and Coordination, the first national environmental agency in the developing world. He has helped to ensure the worldwide dissemination of accurate and timely information about the environment. And he has shown the many ways in which environmentally sound development is also good economics.

    The thread linking his work is his dedication to raising living standards of the poor, while, at the same time, safeguarding the earth’s vital ecosystems and resources. By providing holistic solutions to development challenges, and by building bridges between government, business and civil society, he has helped to chart a path towards a sustainable future, not just for the people of India, but also for people throughout the world. He richly deserves today’s recognition.

    I would also like to thank Jan Pronk, who delivered this evening’s Pastrana Borrero Lecture. He, too, has demonstrated a career-long commitment to sustainable development -- as an academic, as a United Nations colleague, as a member of the Government of the Netherlands, and most recently as my special envoy for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

    The outcome of the Johannesburg Summit has generated different assessments. That was inevitable, given the breadth of the agenda. But it is clear that it identified concrete ways to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21. The Summit also marked a major advance in forging partnerships among governments, civil society groups and the private sector. Indeed, in some cases we are seeing confrontation give way to cooperation, and former adversaries becoming allies. Much of the conceptual confusion that had plagued sustainable development also appears to have been put to rest. The world now understands, more than ever before, that fighting poverty and protecting the environment are two sides of the same coin -- compatible, mutually reinforcing goals, rather than a zero-sum game.

    Our challenge now is to implement what was agreed, and to achieve a safer, more equitable future for all people. This year’s honouree has brought us that much closer to that goal. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I call upon the representative of the Nippon Foundation, Yasunobu Ishii, and the Executive Director of UNEP, Klaus Töpfer, to present, on my behalf, the 2002 UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize to Ashok Khosla. Thank you very much.

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