BRUSSELS, Belgium–The backyard nursery micro-enterprise program being implemented by Armenia Tree Project was selected as the National Winner for Armenia of the Energy Globe Awards, also known as the World Award for Sustainability. ATP representatives attended the awards ceremony on May 26 at the European Parliament in Brussels, where the program was selected from among 853 projects from 109 nations.
During the televised evening gala attended by 1,000 guests in the Plenary Hall of the EU Parliament, an honorary Energy Globe Award was presented to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev. EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso presented the award to Mr. Gorbachev for his leadership role as a cofounder of Green Cross International.
The innovative ATP program recognized by the Energy Globe Awards earlier in the day is mitigating poverty-driven deforestation by creating micro-enterprise tree nurseries in the Getik River Valley of northern Armenia. These nurseries are owned by hundreds Armenia’s most impoverished families, who have doubled their annual income by participating in the backyard nursery program.
"ATP initiated this program as a pilot project with 17 families in 2004, and since then it has grown to include 400 families this year who are growing reforestation seedlings," stated ATP Deputy Director Jason Sohigian after the awards ceremony. "It has always been our goal that some of the additional income be invested to reduce reliance on the forests for heating and cooking fuel by creating an economy for a natural gas infrastructure in these villages."
"On behalf of our field staff and the creators of this program, we were honored to be recognized by the Energy Globe Awards for our contribution to sustainable development in this remote rural region of Armenia," added Sohigian.
The afternoon program at the European Parliament included remarks by President Mikhail Gorbachev and Maneka Gandhi, chairwoman of the Energy Globe Awards jury. The most innovative and sustainable projects from over 100 countries were recognized, from alternative energy projects in Bangladesh, Georgia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Poland, and Sri Lanka, to forestry projects in Argentina and Honduras.
"ATP was extremely proud to be selected for this prestigious award," noted ATP Development Officer Paul Yeghiayan who also attended the event. "It has been our goal in recent years to reach out and make inroads to the development community internationally, so we were pleased to be a part of this program. At the same time we are grateful to our many supporters who made it possible for ATP to implement this important micro-enterprise project in the Getik River Valley."
The Energy Globe Awards was initiated by Wolfgang Neumann of Austria in 1999, and he is one of the presidents of the Energy Globe Foundation. Neumann has been involved with energy efficiency projects for 25 years and he has developed significant expertise in the field. During the evening program, awards went to a Peruvian waste management program, a project building wells in Mozambique, a parabolic power plant in Spain which produces emission-free energy, and a South African project that raises youth awareness of environmental issues. The overall winner was Austrian-based Fronius International, which operates zero emissions vehicles with hydrogen fuel produced by photovoltaic cells and electrolysis.
"The award gala in Brussels represents a unique distinction for the winners, whose projects target greater environmental protection and sustainability in handling our resources, but also serves as an accolade for the Energy Globe, which in its nine years has developed to the world’s most prominent environmental award," read a press release after the event. The television gala also included remarks by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and EU Council President Janez Jansa, as well as performances by Dionne Warwick, Alanis Morissette, and Zucchero.
For more information about the Energy Globe Awards, visit the web site http://www.energyglobe.com/en/
Armenian Ambassador Viguen Tchitetchian (center) with ATP Development Officer Paul Yeghiayan and Deputy Director Jason Sohigian (right) at the national Energy Globe Awards program at the European Parliament in Brussels