Asians prominent in TIME Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment 2009

Celebrating Heroes
Celebrating Heroes

Asian environmental leaders, activists and visionaries feature prominently in TIME Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment 2009 list, published in its issue dated 5 October 2009.

This isn’t surprising, since the Asia Pacific accounts for nearly two thirds of humanity. As I’ve been saying for some years, the quest for sustainable development will be won – or lost – in Asia.

By happy coincidence, I have met three of the two dozen remarkable men and women in this year’s Heroes list — and count two of them among my extended network of friends across Asia.

One friend is the Indian film-maker Mike Pandey, who has been making environment and wildlife films for over 30 years in India, where he is one of the most respected names in conservation circles.

The other is Sheri Liao, Founder of the Global Village of Beijing (GVB), one of the earliest non-governmental organisations addressing environmental issues in China. She is an indefatigable Chinese activist and campaigner whom I first met on my first visit to Beijing in 1996. Our paths have crossed a couple of times since then, and I have always admired her zeal and single-minded pursuit of ‘greening’ China. Added on 17 Oct 2009: Blog post on Sheri Liao and greening the airwaves in China

The third ‘hero’ is the amiable and technocratic Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives. I filmed an exclusive TV interview with him a few weeks ago, which I am currently editing into a short documentary on climate change. His country, the smallest independent state in Asia (by both land area and population), is on the frontlines of impact from rising sea levels and extreme weather events triggered by global warming.

heroes_1005“From saving wild mountain rivers in China to measuring the Arctic’s icy expanse, our green heroes are informed by this simple notion: We can all make a difference,” Time editors wrote in introducing this year’s list.

I just wrote a separate blog post on Prince Mostapha Zaher, Afghanistan’s environmental chief.

And I have already blogged about another TIME Hero well ahead of their selection: environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan, a determined environmental activist who keeps dozens of ships from coming to die on the beaches of her native Bangladesh.

In the coming days and weeks, I plan to write separate posts on these other heroes whose selection is both timely and inspiring to all of us working in the broader development sector.

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

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