Izabella Teixeira Recognized for Brazil?s Successful Efforts to Reverse Deforestation in the Amazon

Bras?lia / Nairobi, 12 September 2013 ? Brazil?s Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira is to receive the United Nations 2013 Champions of the Earth award. The prize ? the UN system?s highest environmental accolade ? is awarded to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.

Ms. Teixeira will receive a Policy Leadership award for, among other achievements, her key role in reversing deforestation in the Amazon forest and her contribution to high-level UN panels on sustainable development.

She joins an eclectic group of laureates, including a sustainable food pioneer, the developers of Google Earth, and a pioneering air pollution researcher, and will receive her award at a special ceremony in New York on 18 September 2013.

Ms. Teixeira was central in implementing land use policies in Brazil that have aided the control and prevention of deforestation. According to government figures, over the past eight years Brazil has seen a reduction in deforestation of 84 per cent, from an annual loss of over 27,000 sq km in 2004 to around 4,500 sq km in 2012.

As part of deforestation efforts, the Brazilian government has invested in greater enforcement measures by police, and in the use of satellites to track changes in forest cover.

An additional 250,000 sq km of conservation area has also been introduced ? equivalent to 75 per cent of the globe?s total forested protected areas.

?To be a Champion of the Earth is an honour, but also a responsibility. Just one year ago, the global community was discussing how to achieve the ambitious goals of Rio+20, and now we are already seeing some of these goals becoming a reality,? said Ms. Teixeira

?We are witnessing a positive change in the way sustainable development is seen, and embraced, by policymakers. This award recognizes the achievements we have made to date, and encouraging us to take action in the face of future environmental challenges. I know I can always count on UNEP and the rest of the UN family as partners in these efforts,? she added.

"Izabella?s commitment to the environment has been central to her professional career in science and politics. She has been at the centre of some of the most highly debated and transformational topics of our time from the Rio+20 Summit to the reform of Brazil's forest policy. Izabella has throughout taken a principled but also politically pragmatic approach while building bridges to others," said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

In 2010 and 2012, Ms. Teixeira was invited by the UN Secretary-General to join the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which was tasked with formulating a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity.

Ms. Teixeira played a prominent role in the preparation and outcome of last year?s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), hosted by the Government of Brazil. Following the summit, Ms. Teixeira was nominated to join the UN?s High Level Panel on Post-2015 Development, which advised the organization on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

?This award recognizes Ms. Teixeira?s excellent work at international environmental conferences, her tireless defense of Brazil and sustainable development on the international stage, and her capacity to work effectively with different sectors of society. The environment can continue to count on Izabella Teixeira?s dedication at a global level,? said UNEP?s Representative in Brazil, Denise Ham?.

Other winners of the 2013 Champions of the Earth award, which is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), include: Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment; Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement; Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD; Google Earth; Jack Dangermond, founder of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo , Director of the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group in Mexico.

The Champions of the Earth award ceremony, sponsored by Guangdong Wealth, will be held in the American Museum of Natural History in New York on 18 September 2013. A host of celebrity activists including supermodel and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele B?ndchen are set to attend.

Ms. Teixeira, who was nominated in the Policy Leadership category, becomes the third Brazilian ?winner of the award, following the CEO of Grupo Abril, Fabio Barbosa, and former Minister of Environment, Marina Silva.

Notes to Editors

About Champions of the Earth
Champions of the Earth, which was launched in 2005, is the UN's flagship environmental award. To date, it has recognized 59 individuals and organizations for their leadership, vision, inspiration and action on the environment. The list of previous Champions laureates include Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Chinese actress and environmental advocate Zhou Xun, the Women?s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and global music legend Ang?lique Kidjo. Visit http://www.unep.org/thechampions/ for more details.

About Guangdong Wealth
Guangdong Wealth Environmental Protection is a leading supplier of water purifying products and water treatment integrated solutions in China. The company practices a business model that puts social welfare before economic interests. Their development concept ?let the sky be bluer and the water clearer? supports UNEP?s goals of maintaining, if not improving, the health of our natural resources. The company invests in environmental scholarships for young university students, organizes clean-up operations and donates tonnes of purifying tablets to tackle pollution in rivers in Guangdong and Beijing.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi), on Tel. +254 20 762 3088 / +254 731 666 214 or e-mail unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Marcelo Tavela, UNEP Brazil Office, on + 55 61 3038.9237 or e-mail comunicacao@pnuma.org