TPL Founder Awarded UN Environment Prize

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 11/20/01: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today that Huey D. Johnson, founder and president of the San Francisco-based Resource Renewal Institute, will receive the 2001 UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize. The prize, considered the world’s most prestigious environmental award, is given annually to one or more individuals or organizations who have “made an outstanding global contribution to the management and protection of the environment.” Johnson is the sole recipient of this year’s award and will receive the $200,000 prize at a United Nations ceremony in New York on November 19, 2001.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director called Johnson, “a catalyst and a champion for environmental protection for more than 40 years;” and praised Johnson’s work to modernize resource management by emphasizing that the problems we face today environmentally and socially require a global and systematic approach.

“To be recognized by my peers with this award is the greatest honor of my life,” Johnson said in response to receiving the award. “I intend to use the money to continue doing what I have always done–work for the environment.”

Johnson founded the Trust for Public Land in San Francisco in 1972 as a national land conservation organization specifically dedicated to protecting land to meet human needs.? The Trust for Public Land now has more than 40 offices nationwide and has protected more than a million acres worth more than $2 billion.

Statement from Huey Johnson

“The environmental movement needs to think bigger than it ever has before. We have become stuck in ruts, and since September 11 there is a need to be more bold.

The American environmental movement must shift its view to the international arena. We’ve done great work in the past several decades saving land, but the focus has been on our own backyard. Now the context is one of worldwide environmental degradation and poverty. And it’s a degradation that adds to the anger and frustration that exists around the world.

What has been missing in environmental policy is the link between environmental restoration and economic growth, both in our own country and around the world. There will be no peace without ecological restoration, and with restoration, over time will come the economic growth to eliminate poverty and build societies that value human rights.

I think back to a different era, one long before September of this year. At the end of WW II the Marshall Plan was a bold, international step by the United States to heal the wounds of war. The need was obvious then and the need is just as obvious today.”

A Global Green Plan

Johnson used today’s announcement to appeal to US and international environmental groups to support a visionary Global Green Plan–a plan so big that it aims to achieve total environmental recovery and economic growth in this century. With a plan for environmental restoration–in one generation–we can set the direction for the rest of the century. We can make no wiser investment in the future for our children and children everywhere.”

“As the bombs continue to fall in Afghanistan, who among us really believes that the long-term solution is a military one? Just as other nations have joined in the war on terrorism, we should join them in creating a vision to protect and restore the natural environment as an alternative to war and a way to bring about peace.”

“A sustainable approach to restoration by industry and governments will return many times the cost. For example, emphasis on conservation, de-carbonizing, and the development of alternative energy sources could eliminate the dependence on imported oil in the next 20 years. Wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel are examples of alternatives to fossil fuel. Quality of life, including pollution reduction, higher standards of public health and increased job opportunities will result from this shift toward a sustainable economy.”

“Next year the nations of the world will gather in South Africa to convene the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), also known as Rio + 10–so named because it follows 10 years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. At the 1992 summit ideas were big and hopes were raised that environmental restoration could be accomplished equitably for all nations. The past decade, however, has failed to live up to those expectations. And environmental decline continues and poverty worsens.”

“We have the technology and the management expertise to create a master plan for a green century based on environmental restoration and sustainable development. Only a stronger environmental movement, nationally and internationally, can press governments to begin this green plan quest. And Rio+10 is the place to start,” said Johnson.

Resource Renewal Institute, founded by Johnson in 1985, has helped advance sustainable development world wide through the promotion of green plans–long-term, comprehensive strategies aimed at achieving environmental and economic sustainability. The Netherlands, New Zealand, and a growing number of other countries and U.S. states have set goals to increase economic growth while reducing pollution emissions. The Netherlands has achieved this result in approximately 12 years.

Johnson’s career as an environmentalist began as a child growing up in rural Michigan. Following college and graduate school, and after a year in sales with a large chemical company, he joined the Nature Conservancy where he served as the first Western Regional Director when the organization had only eight employees. He built the Nature Conservancy Western region into a land preservation model that has resulted in the preservation of millions of acres of land nationwide In 1974 he founded the Trust for Public Land, today the fifth largest environmental organization the United States.

In 1977 he was appointed California Resources Secretary by Governor Jerry Brown. During Johnson’s tenure as resources secretary, he led the opposition to nuclear power development in California and launched the “Investing For Prosperity” program, a comprehensive, integrated plan for managing California’s resources. Over millions of dollars have been invested in IFP programs and the investment has paid off in billions of dollars. A report by the Rand Corporation showed that energy conservation efforts have saved Californians approximately $34 billion since the late 1970’s. Other social and environmental benefits of IFP programs were increased jobs in fishing, forestry, and alternative energy industries.

The UN also recognized Johnson as a source of inspiration and support to hundreds of young environmentalists and peers; to many environmental organizations; and as an advocate for environmental protection initiatives around the world.

For more information on Huey D. Johnson and the Resource Renewal Institute visit the following web sites: