UN recognises IIED climate-change partner as Champion of the Earth

The UN Environment Programme today named a long-term partner of IIED among the winners of its 2008 Champions of the Earth awards.

News, 28 January 2008

The UN Environment Programme today named a long-term partner of IIED among the winners of its 2008 Champions of the Earth awards, which recognise "extraordinary leadership" on environmental issues.

Dr Atiq Rahman, the executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), is a scientist, author, policy advisor, teacher and consultant to many governments, intergovernmental bodies and international organisations. He has also developed an innovative post-graduate course on sustainable development and North-South dialogue.

Under Rahman's leadership, BCAS has become one of the world's leading think tanks and research centres working on sustainable development. His fellow Champions of the Earth this year include a prince and a prime minister.

"Twenty years ago when we started BCAS, we wanted to show that it is possible to institutionalise highest quality research on sustainable development in one of the poorest countries of the world," says Rahman. "We have taken up the challenge of linking decision making at local, national, regional and global levels to promote and integrate solutions to sustainable development concerns."

Rahman has spent the past two decades promoting policies that protect the environment and raise the prospects for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. His recent work, focusing on the challenge of climate change, has included being a lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"Climate change is one of the greatest threats to mankind and its impacts will affect the poor and vulnerable most," says Rahman. "Our thrust has been to advance science, policy and sustainable development by integrating climate change with development. Key concerns we have highlight include poverty reduction, equity and giving a voice to the voiceless."

IIED's director Camilla Toulmin says: "Atiq Rahman is a farsighted individual who has made a lifelong commitment to protecting the environment and the rights of poor people everywhere. He is a major pillar of the sustainable development community."

Saleemul Huq, the head of IIED's climate change group says. "I have known Atiq for over two decades and have had the privilege of working closely with him, first in Bangladesh and then globally over most of that time. He is one of the most dedicated environmentalists, and has a keen interested in poverty alleviation and linking environmental issues to sustainable development. His award is very well deserved."

The other 2008 Champions of the Earth are: Prince Albert II of Monaco, former US Senator Timothy E. Wirth and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark; Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources; Liz Thompson, the former Energy and Environment Minister of Barbados; and Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, the Secretary General of the Yemen People’s General Congress.