Media release 19 September 2016
The Bob Brown Foundation is presenting its 5th annual Environment Awards at a ceremony in Hobart today.
These awards recognise environmental activists who have been prepared to ‘step off the footpath’ to defend the natural world, often at great personal, physical and legal risk.
The 2016 Environmentalist of the Year, with $5000 prize money, is Peter Owen, Director of The Wilderness Society South Australia. Over the past decade, Peter has been instrumental in the protection of large areas of land and seascape including the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia’s Offshore Islands, the Arkaroola Mountains, the Mawson Plateau and the declaration of the State’s 19 marine parks – Australia’s first representative marine park network outside of the Great Barrier Reef.
In January 2016 Peter spearheaded the formation of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, a platform for people and organisations to stand together against fossil fuel mining in the Bight and prevent a Gulf of Mexico scale oil spill which would decimate the marine environment from Western Australia to Tasmania and beyond.
“Peter Owen is in the front rank of ecological achievers world-wide.”
“Thanks to Peter’s tireless campaigning over more than a decade, vast swathes of South Australia’s unique landscapes, islands and marine environments have been protected.”
“This South Australian environmental champion is now determined to see the Great Australian Bight rid of the threat of fossil fuel mining. Peter is leading the campaign to drive BP, and other would-be environmental despoilers, out of the Bight’s wild and pristine waters once and for all”, Bob Brown said.
The 2016 Young Environmentalist of the Year, with $2000 prize money, is Josh Creaser.
A 25 year-old born and bred Canberran, Josh is 350.org Australia's Frontline Projects Coordinator, working on national campaigns to stop the expansion of the coal and gas industry and support a rapid and fair transition to a fossil free energy system.
“The climate action movement is a powerhouse of young activists and Josh Creaser is one making a huge impact.”
“Josh has helped organise some of the most inspirational direct actions of the last few years, involving thousands of people in creative, peaceful protests against the coal and gas giants responsible for dangerous climate change”, Bob Brown said.
“Young, articulate and with a vision for a clean energy future backed by science and public opinion, campaigners like Josh must be a nightmare for the coal and gas industry”, Bob Brown said.
The 2016 Community Environment Prize, and $2000 prize money, goes to Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO).
GECO is a grass roots community group based in the small town of Goongerah in far East Gippsland, Victoria. GECO have been campaigning for protection of East Gippsland’s forests since 1993.
Using a variety of strategies including education, political lobbying, non-violent direct action, citizen science and forest monitoring, GECO have successfully protected a number of important forest habitats for a range of threatened species.
“Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are local environmental heroes. Time after time, the authorities have failed to enforce their own laws designed to protect forests and their wildlife, and this brave band of activists have stepped in to ensure the law is upheld.”
“Thanks to GECO’s persistent and innovative campaigns, hundreds of hectares of habitat for threatened species like the Greater Glider and Long-footed potoroo have been saved from destruction.”
“Incredibly, GECO’s activists have been prosecuted for exposing illegal logging. We think they deserve accolades, so it’s a great pleasure to present them with the Community Environment Award for their courageous work”, Bob Brown said.
The 2016 Deni Greene Award, and $2000 prize money, goes to Phil Wilkinson.
Phil Wilkinson works for the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), currently as its Executive Manager, Government Relations and Technical Services. Over the last 15 years, in roles with the organisation from Technical Manager to CEO, he has been instrumental in bringing together people from a range of disciplines across academia, industry and government to work together on improving sustainability in the built environment.
A founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia, Phil is a mechanical engineer who has demonstrated an amazing ability to achieve regulatory and behavioural change in an industry that has the potential to contribute significantly to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. His courage and tenacity, underpinned by great communication skills and a strong technical background, have resulted in practical outcomes with far-reaching impacts.
“Phil is a rare find – the combination of technical expertise, a passion for effective communication and a deep commitment to improving sustainability of the built environment is a boon to us all and makes him a deserving winner of the Deni Greene Award.”
“This award commemorates the life work of my late friend and engineer, Deni Greene, who came to Australia from the USA to join the campaign to save the Franklin River," Bob Brown said.
Peter Owen, Josh Creaser, Ed Hill (representing GECO) and Bob Brown will be available for interviews following the awards ceremony.
Backgrounders on each of the award winners are attached:
Steven Chaffer 0408 855 261