The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has named seven Champions of the Earth it hopes will inspire wider protection of the planet. The winners include an Inuit activist, South Africa's president, and Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The head of the Orthodox Christian Church, Patriarch Bartholomew, is cited for preaching that God wants the planet's future safeguarded.
The winners will receive trophies sculpted from recycled materials. The presentation will be made at a ceremony in New York next week. UNEP hopes the various projects recognized will be imitated around the globe.
'Set the agenda'
The seven winners each represented a region of the world. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is honored for his government's commitment to providing clean water and sanitation. The king and people of Bhutan are rewarded for helping preserve more than 70% of its forest cover. Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier was recognized for fighting global warming and persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic ecosystem.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said the seven had "to a large extent, set the environmental agenda and laid the foundations for the many areas of progress we are able to see and celebrate today".
The other winners were Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, former Mexican Environment Minister Julia Carabias Lillo, and Zhou Qiang of the All-China Youth Federation.
© 2005 BBC News