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August 10, 2019

Aisha Khan awarded Stanford Bright Award for protecting environment


August 10, 2019

Islamabad: Aisha Khan, a well-known Islamabad based environmentalist, has been awarded the 2019 Stanford Bright Award for her efforts to protect the environment while helping the residents of Pakistan’s high mountain regions.

A low-key personality Aisha Khan stepped into the field in 2001 after being shocked and disappointed at the amount of pollution that tourism has created on K2, the second - highest mountain in the world. But instead of shaking her head and grumbling about it like we all do, she took matters in her hands and set up the

Mountain and Glacier Protection Organisation (MGPO).Not only cleaning up the area but also working with the villagers who are the first casualty of reckless tourism.

“Witnessing the environmental degradation of that magical landscape was perhaps the turning point in my consciousness. It was then that I fully understood the elemental power of nature and felt compelled by an inner urge to preserve and protect the environment”, Ms Khan told the ‘Standford News’ which has printed a special feature on her achievements.

In recognition of her activism and accomplishments, the ‘Standford News’ announced that Khan has been awarded ‘the 2019 Stanford Bright Award.’

This annual $100,000 award, Stanford’s largest environmental prize, recognises exceptional contributions to global sustainability and is given to an organisation in one of 10 rotating regions each year. The prize was made possible by a gift to Stanford Law School from Ray Bright, Stanford Law School class of 1959, a lifelong conservationist, and his wife, Marcelle. This is the seventh year the prize has been awarded.

“We are grateful to the Bright family for entrusting Stanford with locating unsung heroes of environmental conservation, giving them the recognition they deserve and providing them with the resources and attention they need to take their work to the next level,” said Jenny Martinez, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.

“As I spent more time in the mountain areas of Pakistan and lived in remote villages cut off from the mainstream population, I realised the full extent of the dependence of mountain communities on ecological goods and services,” Khan said. “Living far from my own comfort zone and being part of the community, I realized that it is not the poor and the marginalised who degrade the environment but the rich and the privileged who take environmental assets for granted”, she told the ‘Standford News.’

The 2019 Bright Award for Environmental Sustainability will be presented to Aisha Khan on October 3, 2019, at Stanford Law School. As part of the presentation, Khan will give a public lecture and will participate in a panel discussion followed by a reception.

Friends and family will be celebrating Ms Khan’s achievement but the local government in Islamabad can do better by printing her achievement on the new non-plastic bags that are being manufactured.

Images of Aisha Khan and Mountain and Glacier Protection Organisation (MGPO) logo on these bags would be a reminder to everyone that one determined and passionate woman does made a difference.

Speaking to ‘The News,’ Shafqat Kakakhel, former deputy executive UN Environment Programme and chairperson, Board of Governors Sustainable Development Institute, says,

“Aisha’s selection as the winner of the highly prestigious Bright Award for Environmental Sustainability for the year 2019 is indeed heartening news for all those working for the cause of environmental protection and sustainable development in Pakistan. The fact that she was chosen from a large pool of distinguished environmentalists in South Asia and several countries of East Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam Nam, Cambodia, etc., makes her achievement all the more impressive”.

He added that he was thrilled that one of Pakistan’s outstanding environmental activists has been selected for the renowned Bright Award.

“The announcement about Aisha Khan’s selection as the 2019 winner of the Bright Award duly acknowledges her work in the remote, high altitude mountain region of Gilgit Baltistan as well as her initiative to mobilize Pakistan’s environmental organization on a platform for promoting sound policies to counter the huge risks posed by climate change to Pakistan. The Award should serve to inspire and energize our civil society to make even greater endeavors to support policies and projects aimed at mitigating at least partially the negative effects of climate change” , he added.

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