UN honours environmental pioneers from Brazil, South Africa and Zimbabwe
Ground-breaking research on measuring the environmental impacts of sugar production in South Africa and newsprint paper production in Zimbabwe, as well as assessing impacts on biodiversity in Brazil, were among those recognized today by a new award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Initiated with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the “UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Award” recognizes work from academics and private companies in developing and emerging economies that have begun visionary and innovative projects based on the “life-cycle approach,” which concerns the impacts on the environment of a product’s production, use and disposal.
“The growing attention to life-cycle issues is a natural outcome of decades of UNEP work on cleaner production and eco-efficient industrial systems,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
This year’s winners include Kevin Harding and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town for their assessment of sugar production in South Africa; Charles Mbohwa and his team from the Mechanical Engineering Department in the University of Zimbabwe for their earlier research on the life cycle of newsprint paper; and Danielle Maia de Souza and the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina for their work on adapting life-cycle approaches to measure the impacts of unsustainable practices on Brazil’s biodiversity.
Three other projects on waste in Taiwan, chocolate production in Ghana and the creation of a “Brazilian Centre of Excellence on Life-Cycle Thinking” were recognized as runner-ups.
“As pressure on the environment grows through mostly unsustainable production and consumption patterns worldwide, there is an urgent need to encourage life-cycle thinking in developing and emerging economies,” said Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch in UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, speaking at the awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland.
During the ceremony, a new publication entitled “Life-Cycle Management: A Business Guide to Sustainability” was also launched by UNEP. In it, companies such as Airbus, Nokia and Ford explain how it is possible to expand their business while minimising the environmental and social burdens along their entire product life cycles.
Today’s ceremony was held back-to-back with this year’s UNEP/SETAC Life-Cycle Management Conference.