NEW YORK, New York (March 15, 2009) â€” Her Majesty Queen Noor and actor Edward Norton received the 2009 Global Environmental Citizen Awards from Harvard Medical Schoolâ€™s Center for Health and the Global Environment today.
The Global Environmental Citizen Awards are presented annually by the Center for Health and the Global Environment to individuals who have been world leaders in protecting the global environment.
â€œWe are proud to honor two knowledgeable and passionate environmental leaders, each striving to advance human health, well-being, and peace through their work,â€ said Eric Chivian, MD, who shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and is director of the Center. â€œBoth Queen Noor and Edward Norton have pioneered initiatives focused on health, sustainability, and a renewed sense of connection with the Earth, themes central to the mission of the Center.â€
In accepting the award, Her Majesty referenced the findings of a groundbreaking 2008 report by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), an independent panel of experts from across the region, which highlights the mounting danger posed by water scarcity, desertification, and air and marine pollution in the region.
â€œOur health, our welfare, and our childrenâ€™s future depends on the choices we make with respect to the environment just as much â€“ if not more â€“ than any other major issue we face today,â€ said Queen Noor. â€œEven though the Middle East contributes less than five percent to the causes of global warming, its effects will be disproportionately severe in this region.â€
â€œThe AFED report warns that explosive population growth and mass urbanization has put tremendous stress on the environment, contributing to dangerous pollution levels and health problems, as well as massive amounts of waste. Health problems from air pollution cost Arab countries over five billion dollars a year, while the overall cost of environmental damage is estimated at five percent of GDP,â€ she noted.
â€œTheir report concludes that the Arab region's fate is inextricably tied to the state of its environment, and that environmental issues need to be urgently recognized as deserving political and economic priority on par with other major macroeconomic issues,â€ Queen Noor added.
In the early 1980s, Queen Noor introduced sustainable development concepts through womenâ€™s development programs integrating income generation, environmental protection and health and training.
Working with a team from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, she led a national commission that produced Jordanâ€™s National Environmental Strategy in 1991, making Jordan the first Middle Eastern country to complete a comprehensive environmental plan.
Shortly after her marriage Queen Noor became Patron of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature which has established seven protected natural areas, more than 500 environmental school clubs, and promoted the socio-economic development of rural communities by creating job opportunities through eco-tourism, craft production, and other nature-based businesses. Over the years, RSCN programs have become models for conservation and sustainable development, and have also provided training and capacity building to institutions throughout the Middle East.
Today, the King Hussein Foundation has added an environmental focus to programs at all seven of its institutes. Most recently, the Foundationâ€™s Qudorat program is working with communities to ensure environmentally sustainable farming practices, and later this month, the Jordan Micro Credit Company (Tamweelcom) is introducing loans to small businesses to finance the purchase of solar and other green energy technologies.
The Global Environmental Citizen Awards are presented annually by the Center for Health and the Global Environment to individuals who have been world leaders in protecting the global environment. The mission of the Center is to help people understand that our health, and that of our children, depends on the health of the environment, and that we must do everything we can to protect it. To fulfill this mission, the Center carries out a number of programs addressing climate change, the loss of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and degradation of the oceans for a range of audiences including the medical community, policy-makers, business leaders, the media and the general public.