U.N. gives Monaco prince, New Zealand PM green award

22/04/2008 - 18:26

By Melanie Lee and Neil Chatterjee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The United Nations honored Monaco's Prince Albert II and New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark on Tuesday for driving policies to tackle climate change.

The pair were among the seven winners in the annual U.N. Champions of the Earth awards.

Prince Albert, who won the award for Europe for setting up an environmental foundation, said countries had to push their economies towards energy efficiency.

"We can't go on as business as usual. Those who haven't realized that yet will be sorry in a few years," the prince said at a news conference.

The U.N., leading talks to find a climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, wants to highlight lifetimes dedicated to the environment with the awards, in their third year. Previous winners include former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Clark, who did not attend a gala dinner in Singapore where winners received a trophy made of recycled metal, won for her goal to make New Zealand use 90 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Emissions from fossil fuels are blamed for climate change.

Atiq Rahman, the director of a sustainability think tank in Bangladesh and the winner for Asia, said climate change was behind soaring food prices that have sparked fears in the region over food security.

"This erratic behavior -- climate variability -- will accentuate the extremes. This will bring out instability in the food system and will be reflected in the market," he said.

World rice prices have surged as stocks have hit their lowest level in decades, prompting India and Vietnam to curb exports.

Other winners included former U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth for efforts to garner support in the United States for greater action on emission cuts and former Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal for advocating better management of water resources.

Sudan's Balgis Osman-Elasha won for her research into how communities in conflict-stricken Darfur cope with drought.

"We want to focus the attention of the policymakers on the underlying reasons to the conflict, which is climate change," Osman-Elasha told Reuters.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

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