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UNESCO Biosphere Awards 2019

Awards honour those working for a sustainable future

Individuals and organisations throughout the Isle of Man are doing their bit to contribute to a sustainable future.

That was the message from Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK today as he spoke at the second UNESCO Biosphere Awards.

The awards attracted 45 entries, all contributing to our Biosphere’s central aims: sustainable development, conservation and education.

The Chief Minister said: ‘Our Biosphere status encourages us to identify, preserve and promote what we have in the Isle of Man and safeguard it for the future by finding innovative solutions and making good decisions.

‘The challenges faced by our planet are well documented. As an outward-looking, responsible nation, the Isle of Man must form part of the solution.

‘It is important that, as Government, we lead by example and make decisions that protect and promote all we hold dear. Our status as the world’s only ‘entire nation’ Biosphere is certainly an added catalyst for this.

‘But decision-making isn’t the sole preserve of politicians. We are all decision-makers – in our homes, our business, our community groups and our schools; in our everyday choices and our long-term planning.

'We all have a part to play in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our cherished Island.

‘Today is a day to celebrate the great strides we are taking, across our Biosphere.

‘The Awards epitomise the approach outlined: everyone, coming together as a community to live more sustainably.’

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, summarised the entries and presented the prizes –beautiful, hand-carved trophies made from Manx wood by local craftsman Dave Newsham.

Winners were:

Economic sustainability – Stewart Clague Services; Education and Public Awareness – Manx Hedgehog Conservation Society; Energy – James Vickers Building Consultancy Ltd; Environment – AFD Group.

The Minister said: ‘The quality and volume of entries, from individuals, schools, community groups, charities and companies, demonstrate that people care about, and are taking strides to protect and promote our Biosphere.

‘Congratulations to all who took part, whether they won an award or not, as their actions are making a positive difference.’

The awards were judged by Dr Ken Milne, Director of Energy Policy at the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) (chairman); Caren Pegg, President of the Chamber of Commerce; Jo Callister, Advisory Teacher for the Manx Curriculum at the Department of Education, Sports and Culture; Dr Richard Bujko, Strategy and Business Development Manager at Manx Utilities; George Fincher, Energy Consultant, and Dr Richard Selman, Head of Ecosystem Policy at DEFA.

Follow UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds in the coming weeks for the stories behind the entries.

Winners in more detail:

Stewart Clague Services – founded 50 years ago, the business has steadily grown, employing more than 100 staff and investing in eco-initiatives, as well as its own nature reserve. To mark the milestone anniversary, SCS is raising £50,000 for 50 local causes.

Manx Hedgehog Conservation Society – as well as providing round-the-clock care for sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs, the charity raises awareness of environmental issues such as pesticide and plastic use, works in schools and gives public talks.

James Vickers Building Consultancy Ltd – James designed and built the Isle of Man’s first private sector passive house, which won the accolade of Best Eco House in the UK in 2017. A year later, another near zero-emission property he designed was shortlisted for the award. James also works to provide energy-efficient housing and community facilities in Romania.

AFD Group – the company’s rural building promotes change within its workforce and customers by encouraging the use of electric vehicles. It has used a Treasury-approved salary sacrifice scheme to encourage employees to use electric vehicles, with more than 20% having made the switch so far, and more to follow when their current vehicle contracts expire. Fast charging points, powered by the group’s own solar power array, have added to the attraction for EV drivers.

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