Scientific innovator wins top United Nations environment prize

Scientific innovator wins top United Nations environment prize

Dr. Ashok Khosla
Dr. Ashok Khosla, widely viewed as one of the world’s great environmental thinkers and innovators, has won this year’s United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize, the agency announced today.

Dr. Ashok Khosla, widely viewed as one of the world’s great environmental thinkers and innovators, has won this year’s United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize, the agency announced today.

The Prize, worth $200,000, was awarded to Dr. Khosla for his work in demonstrating the value of sustainable development through the teaching and fostering of environmentally friendly and commercially viable technologies. These range from village power plants which use agricultural wastes as fuel to mini-factories that recycle paper to local enterprises that make low-cost roofing tiles.

Much of his recent work has been achieved through Development Alternatives, a group of organizations headquartered in New Delhi which he founded in 1983 to help bring people and nature directly into the design and implementation of India's development strategies.

“This award is really for the work of the many, many partners and collaborators with whom I have been privileged to work over the last 40 years,” said Dr. Khosla. “It is a wonderful, if unexpected, tribute to their efforts at the desk, in the laboratory and out in the field, courageously experimenting with ideas and action that were mostly unfashionable and often directly opposed to conventional development thinking.”

The Chairman of the Selection Committee, Lord Clinton-Davis, praised Dr. Khosla as a “tireless defender of the environment” whose work has had “a large ripple effect, not only in India but around the world.”

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said the winner had been able to make a unique contribution thanks to his focus on the root causes of environmental problems through the organizations he created. “These have offered pragmatic, sensible and life-changing solutions to the burning issues we face: namely, how to achieve economic development that respects people and the environment,” Mr. Toepfer said. “One of his great achievements has been to bring government institutions on board, creating partnerships that last and rural programmes that endure.”

The Sasakawa Environment Prize will be formally presented to Dr. Khosla at the American Folk Art Museum in New York on 19 November.