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Award winners push protection of environment
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-28 02:25

Students of the Qingshan Primary School in the Zunyi County, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, might not have had a good idea of what environmental protection is.

But now their school, after being rebuilt, has a new name - Qingshan Huanbao Xiwang Primary School that symbolizes that concept.

"Huanbao" means environmental protection and "Xiwang" means hope.

Thanks to a donation from Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua, the main body of the school, which used to be old and shabby, has taken on a new look now.

The donation, worth of 200,000 yuan (US$24,180), was part of the US$100,000 Xie received as a winner of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize last year.

Xie donated all the money to four primary schools in western China.

He was awarded the prize last November for his efforts in improving China's environment over more than two decades.

Xie was considered by UNEP as "the initiator and leader'' of China's environmental protection programme.

His leadership has also helped change the attitudes of China's people -- a quarter of the world's population -- towards the environment, according to UNEP's documentary on Sasakawa Environment Prize laureates.

At the award ceremony in New York last November, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Xie has shown great zeal and imagination in promoting the concept of sustainable development in China.

In a statement at the ceremony, Xie said he deemed the award recognition and affirmation by the UN and the international community of China's efforts and achievements in environmental protection and sustainable development.

The school, boasting a history of more than 100 years and built on an ancient temple, had become seriously tattered.

Xie's donation has allowed it to become revitalized, said Li Doufei, a student representative.

"We are very happy that we will soon read books in a large, bright school surrounded by trees,'' she said.

Li said she and her school mates will bear in mind protecting the environment in their daily lives.

"We will take action and join hand in hand to make more students and schools participate in environmental protection,'' she said.

The UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize is one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the world.

To date, two Chinese have been granted the award.

Another Chinese winner was Qu Geping, chairman of the Committee of Environmental and Natural Resource Conservation of the National People's Congress and president of the China Environmental Protection Foundation.

Qu used to be the head of the National Environmental Protection Agency, which presaged the State Environmental Protection Administration.

His outstanding contributions in promoting and supporting environmental protection in China have been considered "exemplary,'' according to UNEP documents.

Qu shared the prize in 1992 with Yuri Izrael from Russia.

In the early 1980s, China began to make a series of guidelines and policies for environmental protection, Qu said.

From then on, environmental protection has been making progress in China, and attracted the attention of the international community.

"My getting the prize showed a recognition of China's measures in environmental protection,'' he said.

After receiving the prize, Qu decided to set up an environmental protection foundation in China.

Thus, the China Environmental Protection Foundation came into being.

"I thought that funds for environmental protection were very limited and hoped my idea could help,'' Qu said.

The foundation now supports many projects in China, involving wildlife protection and desertification control.

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