06.06.2012 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

Instituto-E, UNESCO and Rio de Janeiro City Hall launch the E-Award to acknowledge outstanding sustainable initiatives from Eco-92 on

Envisioned by Oskar Metsavaht in partnership with Instituto-E, UNESCO and Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro City Hall) to acknowledge the most representative initiatives for social and environmental development in the last 20 years, E-Award will be launched during Rio + 20. Within the scope of project Humanidade 2012 (Humanity 2012), E-Award is part of the official schedule, and the award ceremony will take place on 16 June, 6 p.m. at Forte de Copacabana (Copacabana Fort), in the presence of authorities and some of the world’s greatest specialists in sustainability and environment.

In the words of Mayor Eduardo Paes: “Among the contemplated are leading representatives of the environmentalist movement from Brazil and abroad. It is a demonstration that sustainability can’t be considered without a dialogue between global and local, and our city encompasses all the conditions to become a permanent place for such a conversation”.

The E-Award will contemplate initiatives in six categories oriented by Instituto-E’s focal themes: Earth, Environment, Energy, Education, Empowerment and Economics. There will also be two special categories, the E-Brigaders awards: a national and an international one. The Empowerment category will be open for popular vote; the society will be able to vote for one out of three contestants on the webpage of Instituto-E.

“This award meets a dictum I’ve always believed in: that sharing information and experience is the first step to contribute towards sustainable human development. We are recognizing due value of personalities and initiatives that, departing from Rio92’s legacy, were able to transform concepts into actions, calling the world’s attention to the urgency of acting on our planet’s well being”, defines Oskar Metsavaht, president of Instituto-E, who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

For UNESCO Director in Brazil Lucien Muñoz, “E-Award is an important initiative for its focus on people and on personal experiences that helps transform reality; the world cannot change by itself, it is the people who effect change.”  Muñoz also highlighted the awards’ contribution for the widespread understanding of sustainable development, covering aspects that range from economy to the empowerment of vulnerable groups.

The following personalities and/or projects will be contemplated with the E-Award:

• Sylvia Earle (oceanographer) – Environment;
• Corrado Clini (Italy’s Minister for the Environment) – Energy;
• Russell Mittermeier (president of Conservation Internacional) – Earth;
• Instituto Terra (Sebastião Salgado and Lélia Wanick Salgado) – Education;
• Reciclanip (Eugênio Deliberato) – Economics;
• Tião Santos – Empowerment;
• Carta da Terra (Mirian Vilela) – Vitae Civilis (Marcelo Cardoso) – Empowerment;
• Benki Piyãko – E-Brigader national;
• Maurice Strong – E-Brigader international (see below for everyone’s complete profile)

Empowerment Category – open poll

Associação de Catadores de Material Reciclável de Jardim Gramacho (Association of Collectors of Recyclable Material from Jardim Gramacho) | Tião Santos
Tião Santos has worked in Latin America’s largest landfill site, Gramacho, that is about to be closed. For 25 years he witnessed his mother’s hard work amidst the waste and got motivated to look for a path that could change the lives of thousands of garbage collectors.

His fight for the rights of collectors started in 2004 when he founded, with colleagues, ACAMJG (Association of Collectors of Recyclable Material from Jardim Gramacho) with the aim of turning them into entrepreneurs and obtaining revenue from the garbage. Today, Tião presides the association and also the Agrega Rio, a network of cooperatives.

But his life suffered a really big turn when artist Vik Muniz sought out Gramacho’s collectors with the idea of setting up a series of paintings using objects collected at the landfill, assisted by the collectors and shooting the entire artistic process. One of the results of this work was the documentary Lixo Extraordinário (Waste Land), acclaimed by audience and critics. From then on, Tião has been around the country and the world exchanging experiences with recycling and public policies of residue management. His audience ranges from collectors from other Brazilian states to Harvard students.

Movimento da Carta da Terra (The Earth Charter Initiative) | Mirian Vilela

The Earth Charter is a declaration of ethical principles fundamental for the construction in the 21th century of a fair, sustainable and peaceful global society.  It seeks to inspire all peoples to a new sense of global interdependency and shared responsibility aimed at the well-being of the entire human family, of the great community of life and the future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call for action.   

The Earth Charter is the result of a decade of intercultural dialogue about common goals and shared values. The Earth Charter Project started out as a United Nations initiative but evolved into a global civil society initiative. In 2000, the Earth Charter Commission, an independent international entity, finished and published the document as a people’s charter.

The process of writing the Earth Charter involved the most inclusive and participative process associated to the creation of an international declaration. This process is the basic source of its legitimacy as a milestone ethical guide. The legitimacy of the document was strengthened by the adherence of over 4.500 organizations, including several governmental organs and international organizations.  

Vitae Civilis: Citizenship and Sustainability | Marcelo Cardoso

Founded in São Paulo in 1989, Vitae Civilis succeeded in the development of several local projects, initially in the Ribeira valley and afterwards achieved national and international reach. Their vision is to create a “civil society active in handling social and environmental sustainability within global, national and local spheres” whose mission is to “promote sustainable development through participative implementation of integrated public policies; strengthen initiatives that create revenue and employment associated to environmental sustainability; generate and disseminate knowledge and practices in the fields of climate, energy, water, ecotourism, forest conservation and environmental services; and strengthen civil society initiatives and organizations within those fields”.  
In that context, it develops myriad projects dealing with awareness of the limitations of natural resources, climate change, consumerism, among others.


Instituto-E is an OSCIP (Civil Society Organization of Public Interest) presided by Oskar Metsavaht, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and directed by Nina Almeida Braga, based in Rio de Janeiro. The institution is in charge of the conception and organization of the E-Award. Instituto-E is internationally recognized and its mission is to transform and position Brazil as “the country of sustainable human development” by means of the creation and management of a network that enhances synergy among different society initiatives and agents.


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was created on 16 November, 1945, soon after the Second World War, in order to ensure peace through intellectual cooperation among nations, following up on world development and helping Member States – 193 nations today – in the search for solutions to the problems that challenge our societies. It is the United Nations agency that acts within the following major programs: Education, Natural Sciences, Social and Human Sciences, Culture and Communication and Information.


Movement for environmental information and awareness that transforms concepts into actions through the work of E-Brigaders. Its goal is to bring awareness and to educate by means of creative and alternative communication. E-Brigade acts in partnership with civil society organizations, supporting and publicizing environmental, social, cultural and educational actions directed towards the planet’s sustainable development.


Humanidade 2012 (Humanity 2012) is an initiative by FIESP, FIRJAN, Roberto Marinho Foundation, Senai-Rio, Senai-SP, Sesi-Rio, Sesi-SP, sponsored by Prefeitura do Rio (Rio de Janeiro City Hall) and Sebrae. From 11-22 June, the project will present a series of seminars and debates regarding the themes of Rio+20, as well as host an exhibition open to the public conceived by artist Bia Lessa, in an area of almost 7000m2 at Forte de Copacabana (Copacabana Fort) in Rio de Janeiro. The event aims at engaging society in the discussion on how to connect economic growth to social development and the preservation of the environment.

E-Award 2012 NOMINEES:

EARTH | Russell Mittermeier | President of Conservation International

Russell A. Mittermeier has been president of Conservation International since 1989. Recognized as a “hero to the planet” by Time magazine, Mittermeier is a world leader in the field of biodiversity and tropical rainforest conservation. As a primatologist and herpetologist, he has done fieldwork in over 20 countries, having focused on the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest and Madagascar. He is also a professor at NYU, an associated research at Harvard and president of Marsh Biodiversity Foundation Margot since 1996.

Mittermeier is particularly interested in the discovery and description of new species, having found 12 new species and holding the honor of having 7 species named after him. Recently, he got involved with the matter of global warming, highlighting the importance of tropical rainforests in the mitigation of climate change and the concept of "avoided deforestation".

ENVIRONMENT | Sylvia Earle | oceanographer and founder of Deep Search Foundation

Sylvia Earle is an oceanographer, writer, lecturer and director of dozens of business and non-profits organizations. She is a National Geographic researcher, founder of Sea Alliance, Blue Mission and she presides over the advisory bodies of several institutions. She holds a Duke University PhD and has amassed 19 honoris causa degrees, having lectured in over 80 countries and published 175 scientific, technical and popular titles.

Dr. Earle has participated in over 100 expeditions and recorded about 7000 hours under water. She was awarded over 100 national and international honors, including the Dutch Order of the Golden Ark, the TED Prize, the Academy of Achievement. She was also graced with medals by Explorers Club, the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, the Lindbergh Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, Barnard College, National Parks Conservation Association and the Council of Natural Resources.

ENERGY | Corrado Clini | Italy’s Minister of the Environment

Corrado Clini has been Minister of Environment in Italy since November, 2011. As director-general of that Ministry since 1990 he coordinated several environment programs and economic and international cooperation activities (450 projects in 60 countries). He has presided over the G8 Global Bioenergy Partnership task force since 2006; as well as the European Environment Agency and Commission of Health, he is visiting professor Tshingua University – Beijing; visiting professor at Harvard University – Kennedy School of Government; member of the Clinton global initiative; editor of "Sustainable Development and Environmental Management: Experiences and Case Studies ", and was also graced with many awards.

EDUCATION | Terra Institute | Sebastião Salgado and Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado

Founded in 1998 by Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado, Terra Institute already counts 14 years active in the Rio Doce valley, between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. It is in charge of a nearly concluded project of recovery of the Atlantic Forest that is among the largest in the country in terms of continuous area. It aims at the recovery of 1504.11 acres of Fazenda Bulcão (Bulcão Farm), that were completely degraded when it was bestowed the title of Private Reserve of Natural Heritage in 1998. Presently, its total area is of 1754.05 acres.

Year after year, with the support of important partners – both from the governmental and private initiatives, as well as individual donors from various countries –, the plantation of over 1.7 million trees was made viable, originating a forest that today includes 293 forest species native of the Atlantic Forest. Moreover, with the acquired knowledge and the supply of over one million seedlings for external projects, Terra Institute is helping reforest over 13590.8 acres of degraded Atlantic Forest areas in several municipalities of the Rio Doce valley, between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.

In 2004, UNESCO published the book “O Berço da Desigualdade” (The Crib of Inequality), featuring a series of photographs by Sebastião Salgado taken in schools from several countries, and texts by senator and former Minister of Education in Brazil Cristovam Buarque, about the world crisis in education. Terra Institute has received support from the Criança Esperança program, a project conducted by Rede Globo in partnership with UNESCO.

ECONOMICS | Reciclanip | Eugênio Deliberato

Reciclanip, and entity geared towards collection and redirection of unusable tires, was created in 2007 to consolidate the National Program of Collection and Redirection of Unusable Tires, created in 1999 by the National Association of the Industry of Pneumatics (ANIP) with the purpose of collecting and finding environmentally safe uses for tires that are no longer suitable for circulation or refurbishment. Reciclanip acts towards promoting the collection and setting an environmentally correct destination for the tires, building relationships with the many actors in the chain of production and discarding of tires, besides publicizing their actions aiming at the promotion of widespread environmental awareness. From its foundation until today, over 1.4 million tires have been collected and there are over 700 collection bins spread all over Brazil.


Maurice Strong has performed a unique and critical role for the globalization of the environmentalist movement. He was Secretary-General of two of the most important United Nations Conferences on Environment: Stockholm, 1972 and Rio 92. He was the first executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has participated on several UN missions. He received 53 honoris causa degrees, was a visiting scholar in several universities across the world and is presently a lecturer in the University of Beijing, also presiding over the Council of Research and Sustainability for Northeast Asia.

NATIONAL E-BRIGADER | Benki Piyãko | Indigenous leader

Benki was raised by his grandfather, who named him Wenki (life warrior), since he was 2 years old, and was trained as a shaman. Benki was aware of everything that happened in the region, including conflicts over land, exploitation of timber and drug dealing. His grandfather died when he reached the age of 10, and Benki, already recognized as an important leader, took on a central role in the tribe and subsequently led a non-violent resistance against the invasion by farmers of his people’s lands.

In 1992, Benki took part of ECO 92, leaving his native sod for the first time. He spoke on behalf of indigenous populations and surprised everyone with his maturity at such young age. During his journey back to the tribe, Benki paid visits to universities in the state of São Paulo to give a series of lectures and was introduced to new knowledge and research in conservation and development. As such, he returned to his tribe with the idea of creating a research project based on indigenous knowledge to preserve the forest.

During the following months, he dedicated himself to surveying all the species present in the region and he also reforested isolated areas. In two years, the people saw the difference and took an interest in doing the same within other areas. Benki also founded a cooperative that produced diverse materials for sustainability and commercial circulation. He was bestowed the National Human Rights Award.

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UNESCO in Brazil Office
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