In an honorary ceremony that took place at the new Congress Hall at the premises of the International Olympic Academy, in Ancient Olympia, “Green Star” Award winner for her pro bono work on environmental emergencies, Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Hellenic Parliament, dedicated her award to the people of her hometown, Zacharo, and the Prefecture of Ilia, Greece. Ms. Avgerinopoulou serves as the Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector of the New Democracy Party and Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology (EILST), a non-profit, non-governmental organization.
Ms. Vicki Pantazopoulou, Honorary Consul of Kenya in Greece, presented the “Green Star” Awards, that recognize those who have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental emergencies around the world. A joint initiative between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Green Cross International and the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), introduced in 2007 and presented every two years, the Award aims to raise awareness of environmental emergencies and disasters; encourage increased international efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to such disasters; amplify the connection between environmental impacts of disasters and emergencies, and the consequences for affected populations and providers of humanitarian assistance. Ms. Avgerinopoulou received the Award for her consistent efforts in preventing, preparing for and alleviating the consequences of natural disasters both in her home-country, Greece, and worldwide.
Ms. Avgerinopoulou acknowledged the important humanitarian and environmental work by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Green Cross International, while she publicly thanked the aforementioned agencies for the special honor bestowed to her. In a symbolic gesture, Ms. Avgerinopoulou stressed that the award belongs to people of the region and the people that voluntarily helped the natural environment and those in need. She emphasized the importance of the United Nations efforts in addressing serious challenges after environmental disasters. She also assured the people of Ilia Prefecture that the international community has not forgotten them, as this award shows. Ms. Avgerinopoulou expressed her gratitude to Mr. Isidoros Kouvelos, President of the International Olympic Academηυ, Mr. Spiridon Kapralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Mr. Dionysios Gaggas Director of the International Olympic Academic for their support to the event.
Due to her Presidency at the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology Green Star award winner Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou gave special recognition and nominated academics, diplomats, scientists, school children, teachers and journalists who voluntarily contributed in a ten-month reconstruction program in Ilia.
A Volunteers’ Award was bestowed to Mr. Nektarios Polychroniou, Consul of Botswana in Greece and to his wife, Angelika Katsigianni, for their contribution in raising awareness among foreign nations, as well as for providing pro bono legal advice to the local communities. Volunteerism award was given to Mr. Nikos Chronis, assistant professor in bio-medical engineering (University of Ann Arbor, Michigan), who helped coordinating contributions of foreign universities to the reconstruction efforts at the Ilia Prefecture, as well as his overall humanitarian and research work.
Volunteerism Award was also given to Mr. Christos Skouteris and the photographic team of the High-school in Zacharo for depicting the first flowers flourishing on the burnt land and offering, thus, hope to the people of the region. Another Award was bestowed to Mr. Ioannis Kanellopoulos, professional photographer, for co-organizing the largest photographic exhibition on the theme along with the EILST, the Union of Foreign Press/reporters and the Association of Greek Photo reporters.
Awards were also given to Mr. George Keramitzoglou, reporter of “SKAI” radio and television for organizing reforestation programs in the area, as well as for assisting in the set up of the initiative “Observatory of Ilia” cooperation with “Ionion Fm”. Special Award was given to Ms. Eleonora Meleti, journalist of “Star” Channel for her constant efforts in addressing local challenges and for promoting tourism in healthy part of the burnt areas. Volunteer’s Award was also given to Ms. Katerina Bassakali, Foreign News Editor of “Apogevmatini” newspaper for her coverage of climate change and how the phenomenon is affecting Greece.
Awards were bestowed to the honorees by Olympic Medalists Ms. Sarah Wincless (Gr.Britain), Ms. Inga Babakova (Ukraine), Ms. Sylvia Poll (Costa Rica), Mr. Razvan Florea (Romania), Mr. Steven Mesler (USA) and Mr. Michail Nestruev. The latter were decorated by the M.P. and Director of EILST, Ms. Avgerinopoulou, for conveying the message of the Olympic solidarity worldwide.