|Wednesday, 20 January 2021|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos among 7 recipients of UNEP 'Champions of the Earth' awardEcumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos among 7 recipients of UNEP 'Champions of the Earth' award
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was among seven recipients -- including monarchs, government and religious leaders, and indigenous and youth group representatives -- of the inaugural UNEP "Champions of the Earth" awards, presented at a ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday evening. The award was accepted on the Patriarch's behalf by Archbishop Demetrios of America.
In presenting the awards to this unique group of seven environmental leaders, representing each region of the world, Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), hailed them for their efforts to "fight for, defend and protect the natural riches that we have for too long taken for granted".
"UNEP is honoured to recognize the achievements of those who have, to a large extent, set the environmental agenda and laid the foundations for the many areas of progress we are able to see and celebrate today", he noted.
The Champions of the Earth award was created by UNEP in 2004 to honour individuals or groups who have made a significant and recognized contribution, regionally or beyond, to the protection and sustainable management of the Earth‚s environment and natural resources. Laureates have been rewarded for their creativity, vision and leadership, and for the potential that their work and ideas can be replicated across the globe.
The award is a sculpture, made of recyclable metal, representing the four elements of nature.
According to a UNEP press release:
For North America, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who was on hand to receive the honour in person, was recognized for her energies in speaking out on behalf of the 155,000 Inuit of the Arctic. As Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, she has been a highly effective spokesperson on the international stage on a wide range of Arctic and indigenous issues. These range from the devastating effects of climate change and its relentless assault on the Inuit‚s traditional way of life to global efforts to eliminate persistent organic pollutants, which pose a particular threat to Arctic peoples and ecosystems.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos), spiritual leader of the over 300 million Orthodox Christians, and known as the Green Patriarch, was honoured with the Champions of the Earth award for mobilizing moral and spiritual forces, not just in Europe, but globally, towards achieving harmony between humankind and nature. As leader of the Orthodox Church, he has worked energetically to promote mediation between East and West, and to challenge people and leaders of all faiths to vigorously pursue peaceful and innovative solutions to the challenges of the new millennium. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America accepted the award on behalf of the Patriarch. Among his many environmental achievements is a series of symposia on the conservation of the seas, as part of 'Religion, Science and the Environment', with the latest being 'The Caspian Sea -- Linking People and Traditions'. The symposium also aims to encourage understanding and a dialogue between the Christian and Islamic Faiths.
Also present was Julia Carabias Lillo, representing the Latin American and Caribbean region, who was honoured for her efforts in coordinating research and rural development programmes in extremely impoverished peasant communities throughout her native Mexico. She was also recognized for her outstanding service to her Government as its Environment Minister in the 1990s and, internationally more recently, as Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility.
President Thabo Mbeki and the people of South Africa received the Champions of the Earth award for their commitment to cultural and environmental diversity. They were also honoured for their efforts towards achieving the goals and targets encapsulated in the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Plan of Implementation, particularly in the area of clean water and sanitation. Their world leadership in conservation practices, including spearheading of the groundbreaking sponsorship of the Peace Parks concept to support cross-border conservation of critically important wild habitats, has also been exemplary. Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa‚s Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, was on hand to accept the award.
The next honour went to a leader in the West Asia region, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, for his lifetime work to protect his country‚s environment, and for his widely acclaimed contributions to agriculture, afforestation and species protection. The presentation of the award recognizing the late Sheikh‚s environmental achievements was made Tuesday in Dubai to his eldest son Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, during an official visit by Mr. Toepfer.
From Asia and the Pacific, the King and the People of Bhutan were presented the award in recognition of their commitment to placing the environment at the centre of the country‚s constitution and all its development plans. Bhutan‚s track record is quite impressive, with more than 74 per cent of its land under forest cover, and 26 per cent of this cover designated as protected areas. Also notable are the country‚s long-standing legislation and policies that ensure the sustainable use of resources, promote community involvement in environmental activities, improve land use planning, and integrate traditional with modern natural resource use practices. Mr. Daw Penjo Bhutan‚s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, accepted the award on behalf of the King and the people of Bhutan.
A special award was given to Mr. Zhou Qiang and the All-China Youth Federation in recognition of Mr. Zhou‚s outstanding achievements as honorary chairman of the Federation and leader of the China Mother River Protection Operation, which mobilised 300 million Chinese youth to protect the environment. The Federation, the national umbrella organization for youth associations in China, has undertaken almost 900 afforestation projects covering nearly 200,000 hectares. Mr. Zhou was in attendance to accept the award.
CAPTION: Pictured are Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America, accepting the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Ecumenical Patriarch Barotholomew from UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, at an event at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday. (ANA/Dimitris Panagos)
 President Papoulias congratulates new Pope Benedict XVIPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias sent a message on Wednesday to Pope Benedict XVI congratulating him on his election:
"This day which marks the assumption of your high duties as Pontiff, I would like to express the sincere congratulations of the Greek people and myself personally, with the certainty that the international community will find in your person a champion of Christian values, a supporter of human rights and a clear and loud voice which will speak for peace and the disinherited of this world.
"Rest assured that the respect of each well-intentioned person in our country will accompany your steps in this long road which opens up before you today."
 Finmin sees 2005 privatisation proceeds totalling 1% of GDPFinance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday that he anticipated revenue of 1,600 million euros in 2005 from the government's fresh wave of privatisation, representing 1.0% of gross domestic product.
In the pipeline were a reduction of the state's holding in Athens-quoted Football Pools Organisation to around 34%; and part-flotations for the Post Office Savings Bank and Athens international airport, Alogoskoufis told an Athens conference of The Economist business magazine.
In addition, the government expected a flood of investment spurred by a new development law. Thirty new investment plans worth 80 million euros were currently being evaluated; and over the previous 24 hours another seven investment proposals had been submitted totalling 35 million euros, the minister added.
 Greeks' participation in UNICEF radiothon impressiveGreek listeners' response to the radiothon, held by UNICEF and Greek radio stations on Tuesday, was impressive bringing in more than 150,000 euros.
The money, which will go towards UNICEF's worldwide immunization campaign, was raised just by callers, but is expected to increase dramatically since the public can continue to make donations at major Greek banks nationwide.
Apart from the public, organisations also made donations. Greek Parliament, for example, donated 30,000 euros; the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) donated 20,000 euros, while the Athens Municipality donated 10,000 euros.
According to a statement by UNICEF's National Committee in Greece, "20 euros is all that is needed to save the life of a child, since with this amount we are able to vaccinate a child against the six, basic fatal diseases."
UNICEF's special target for this year is to raise money for vaccines to immunize 100 million children in Africa against the polio virus.
Members of the public wishing to make a donation can make a deposit in special bank accounts opened by the following banks:
National Bank of Greece: 169/480020-64
Emporiki Bank: 031/ 80191081
Agricultural Bank of Greece: 017 04 004416-70
Alpha Bank: 115 00 2002 017649
Piraeus Bank: 5049-022842-011
Citibank: 55 02 346484
Nova Bank: 519829
Attica Bank: 069/54799691
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