Salle Pedagogique des Zones Arides
In 1998, to increase awareness of local water problems, the children of the Beni Abbes' Salle Pedagogique des Zones Arides in the southwest of the Algerian Sahara decided to carry out a survey on the problems of water and its management within households. The target group consisted of 500 families in Beni Abbes.
The results of the survey showed that there was significant wastage, with wastewater disposed of untreated, increasing wastewater volumes and possible pollution of the groundwater. The volume of wastewater that is not reused can be subtracted directly from the amount of spring water available for irrigation. When they assessed the results of the survey, these young people were led to think about the health risks from an increase in waterborne diseases from polluted water. With their teachers' backing, they decided to set up a small experimental lagoon system.
In December 1999, this was carried out with assistance from the Popular Communal Assembly, which enabled a water engineer to participate. The neighbouring 'fellahin', who saw production in their plots increase, became partners in the project. When faced with problems in cleaning out the first basin, the young people succeeded in raising the awareness of the people whose wastewater was going into it so that they selectively screened out oils. A film Nest of Nurseries was shot telling the story of how the lagoon system was born, in the context of preparations for the international exhibition in Hanover, Germany with the help of ENTV (Algerian Television).
The children passed on the message that saving water is vital. Feedback has been set up between the young people and the families surveyed, which has enhanced the value of the club. The need for co-operation with all social partners has been taken on board. In 2002, the lagoon system was a focus for public awareness raising and information for the people of Beni Abbes and for schools in neighbouring oases.
Dr. Annelisa Kilbourn
"International" and "wildlife conservation" were consistent themes throughout the life of Dr. Annelisa Kilbourn who tragically died in a plane crash in Gavon, in November 2002, whilst working on her research into the Ebola virus and western lowland gorillas. With a multi-national background and upbringing in Europe and the United States and years of work in Africa and Southeast Asia, her fluency in seven languages was just one of her many talents.
Upon graduation from veterinary school at Tufts University in the United States, Dr. Kilbourn received the Wildlife Health Fellowship from the Field Vet Programme of the Wildlife Conservation Socity (WCS). She conducted the first research on the health of free ranging orangutans in Sabah, Malaysia, helped to train local counterparts, and assisted the government in the translocation of orangutans and elephants to safe havens.
Following this, she was accepted in a two-year joint post-doctyoral programme at Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Excelling at her work, she was offered a permanent position at the Shedd Aquarim where she remained until accepting simultaneous opportunities with both SOS Rhino and WCS.
For SOS Rhino, she took on the task of helping to protect the last remaining rhinos in Borneo. If there is any hope left for the survival of the rhino in Borneo, much of it is due to Dr. Kilbourn's tireless and successful efforts to bring all of the stakeholders to the same table and help to implement a plan on the ground.
For WCS's Field Veterinary Programme, she forged new ground with the lowland gorilla health programme in Central Africa. She quickly built trust and working relationships with local people, researchers, park managers and government officials at six sites in three countries. She programmed customized software in French, runing on hand-held organizers, to facilitate standardized data and sample collection by potentially hundreds of people. This information instantly links all of the data to GIS maps to show the critical distribution of health problems for gorillas and people.
Dr. Kilbourn's training of field teams allowed her to lead investigations into last year's deadly Ebola Virus outbreak, and her work in the filed produced the first proof that gorillas are infected and quickly die of the virus -- information which may serve to protect both gorillas and humans. Dr. Kilbourn did not agree with the pragmatist's notion that we have to make choices between people and animals. She was commmitted to working twice as hard and doing whatever necessary to benefit both.
Dr. Kilbourn worked some 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Once when encouraged to take a short vacation, Annelisa answered, "Why? I'm on vacation every day."
Boureima Wankoye is president of Achats Service International (ASI) - a company which has proven to be an excellent example of a private sector initiative in environmental protection.
ASI introduced and encouraged the mass plantation of bum arabic for export to Europe in the drylands of Niger, which has not only helped rehabilitate degraded land in these areas, it has also provided a profitable, income-generating activity for its inhabitants. It has thus tackled both adverse weather and land conditions as well as poverty, marking a breakthrough in sustainable development in drylands, where the world's poorest reside. Its activities have proven that innovative, profit-making solutions to environmental problems are feasible even in the poorest agricultural and economic conditions, and with modest capital.
The plantation of 1,200 hectares of gum arabic in the drylands of Niger by ASI has greatly contributed to environmental rehabilitaiton and the eradicatin of poverty in these areas. It has provided a source of income for more than 6,000 rural families, rehabilitated degraded land through afforestation, helped preserve almost extinct animal species, and created value for African agricultural products in the world market. It has also drawn attention to the value of gum arabic, which requires little water and no fertilizer and can be used for commercial purposes such as soft drinks, cosmetics and civil aviation, as a specimen for profit-generating agricultural production in dryland rural areas.
ASI's example has paved the way for the establishment of other such enterprises in drylands throughout the country and round the region.
Women Environment Preservation Committee - (WEPCO)
The Women Environment Preservation Comittee (WEPCO) is a non-profit organization established in 1992 by a group of housewives from Lalitpur in response to a growing awareness that the environment in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal was in danger.
The growing volume of waste caused by increasing population and excessive consumption is one of the most urgent problems in the City of Kathmandu. As a result, WEPCO has made 'disorganized garbage' its priority.
WEPCO's goal is to enable the people of Kathmandu to have a clean and healthy environment through the initiatives of local women and students. The bulk of waste generated by households is kitchen waste. In Nepal most kitchen work is done by women. Women decide what, when and where to throw garbage.
WEPCO has completed more than 100 training sessions on environmental awareness among community women and schools. It has several women's environment groups working in Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City. WEPCO has formed 90 clubs in schools, involving more than 6,000 students in six districts. Students of eco-clubs help create awareness of household waste management in their communities.
WEPCO, which collects and manages garbage from more than 3,000 households from Lalitpur, has proved that using the three "R" principle (reduce, reuse and recycle) at the community level can control waste pollution problems in an urban municipality. WEPCO established demonstration sites for paper recycling and organic and vermin compost and has supported many households to start their own composting.
WEPCO has a staff of 15 women and 10 men who are supported through the sale of recycled paper and garbage collection services. WEPCO is involved at the policy level to promote advocacy against the burning of waste, and teh expansion of waste management at the community level.
Through Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia (Environment and Development) magazine, which he launched as a private initiative, Najib Saab has triggered an unprecedented environmental public awareness campaign in the Middle East, bringing environmental concerns to the Arab public-at-large and creating a regional environmental advocacy forum.
The influential magazine now has a circulation of 38,500 in 22 countries. It is used in schools, and its articles are a main reference for environmental curricula. Saab's editorials on sustainable development issues in the Middle East are syndicated to 10 daily newspapers.
Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia sponsors more than 360 environmental clubs in schools, and supports them with education material and training. Saab has produced a weekly environmental education television programme entitled Environment Club -- a pioneering effort in the region. The magazine organizes environmental conferences and it is shown in different parts of the region.
He has succeeded, again through his own initiative, to build around the magazine a pan-Arab environmental movement, which strongly helped place the environment on the agenda of both the public and the private sectors. By creating a vibrant environmental forum, he has accomplished what official bodies in the region could not successfully develop over the years.
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak
To address this situation, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, a social worker, environmentalist and Founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, developed the technology of a twin-pit, pour-flush toilet known as Sulabh Shauchalaya, of which over one million have been constructed. This environment friendly technology provides on-site disposal with no smell and soil pollution, and it conserves water.
Through this development, there has been a massive change in the attitude and behaviour of people towards sanitation. Indians now readily pay charges in 6,000 Sulabh public toilets.
Biogas production from human excreta in 120 public toilets and its various uses, e.g. lighting, cooking, etc and the use of effluent as rich fertilizer is one of his hallmark contributions. To the biogas plant is attached the Sulabh effluent as rich fertilizer is one of his hallmark contributions. To the biogas plant is attached the Sulabh effluent treatment plant, whereby water discharged is made colourless, odourless and pathogen free, fit for reuse in agriculture, pisciculture, or cleaning of public toilet or discharge into any water-body, promoting a better and healthier environment. In both the technologies, there is production of organic nutrient-rich fertilizer and reuse and recycling of waste matter.
In 1996, Pathak’s Sulabh Sanitation System was recognized as Global Urban Best Practice by UN-Habitat at
Serge M. Antoine
Very few people in France, or in the Mediterranean region, have devoted as much imagination, energy and intelligence to the cause of the environment as Serge Antoine.
As early as the 1950's, he saw the need for a better distribution of activities, which would protect natural areas in France. His actions led to two major decisions: the adoption of a new form of regional planning and the setting up of the "Parcs Naturels Regionaux" - similar to biosphere reserves.
He played a major role in the creation of the Ministry of Environment and was Secretary-General of the High Committee for Environment. He took an active part in the preparations for the Stockholm Conference and in the creation of UNEP. He was instrumental in negotiating the 1976 Barcelona Convention for the Mediterranean and launched the idea of a study of the region, which became the Blue Plan.
In 1996, he advocated the setting up of a Mediterranean Commission for Environment and Development. He promoted the creation of the "Conservation du Littoral" -- a national network of hiking trails and he founded the C.N. Ledoux Institute for future studies.
He is on the Editorial Board of the World Resources Institute and the Seydoux Foundation for the Mediterranean. From 1982-1985, he was chairman of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) National Committee of France and has been vice-chairman of the Blue Plan since 1985.
He is an officer of the Legion of Honour (1994), Commander of the Order of Merit and a recipient of the Mediterranean Gold Medal (1997).
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association - (BELA)
Feeling the urgent need for an advocacy group to monitor and pursue the implementation of laws and regulations to protect the environment, a goup of young lawyers initiated the Bangladesh Environmental lawyers Association (BELA) in 1991.
Over the years, BELA has become a true pressure group against environmental violations. BELA's research has played a significant role in popularizing the environment amongst the general public. Opposed to aggressive advocacy, BELA has helped sensitize various actors by raising environmental awareness. It approaches each organization as a co-actor and emphasizes the need for joint action.
A model for training and sensitizing professionals and the public was adopted by the organization that presently organizes such programmes with lawyers, NGO workers, government officials, teachers, journalists, students, and representatives of local government. BELA is the only organization that arranges special workshops exclusively for judicial officers.
With 60% of the total population in Bangladesh estimated at having no access to justice, BELA is considered a pioneer in public interest environmental litigation (PIEL). As an environmental organization, it has to date filed 38 cases of which 12 have been decided in favour of the cause while the rest are pending.
Other major achievements of BELA include: opening up of PIEL in Bangladesh; recognition of 'right to life' as part of constitutional 'right to life'; directive judgements in mitigating industrial pollution and vehicular pollution; addressing payment of environmental compensation in development projects; river encroachment; and unlawful filling of flood plain zones.
Other activities undertaken by BELA in Bangladesh include: research into legal documents to minimize the gap between provisions of law and people's expectations, including laws on compensation; on regulating environment and customs on forests and intellectual property rights.
BELA produces a quarterly newsletter in English and Bengali on major environmental issues and laws, as well as Sangsad Sangbad - a bulletin that covers the proceedings of the Pariliament on environmental issues and the law making process.
BELA is an active member of IUCN, the Environmental Lawyers Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), and the Coalition of Environmental NGO's in Bangladesh (CEN).