2007 Alcan Prize for Sustainability awarded to India-based Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and Poverty Alleviation


    MONTREAL, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - Rio Tinto Alcan and the International Business
Leaders Forum (IBLF) are pleased to announce the 2007 recipient of the
US$1 million Alcan Prize for Sustainability is the Utthan Centre for
Sustainable Development and Poverty Alleviation, based in India (Utthan).
    "We congratulate Dr. Dina Nath Tewari, his staff, and their networks on
receiving the 2007 Prize," said Rio Tinto Alcan's Corey Copeland, Senior Vice
President, Communications and External Relations, presenting the prize in
Delhi, India. The Alcan Prize for Sustainability was introduced to recognize
and reward significant contributions to the goal of economic, environmental,
and social sustainability by NGOs, not-for-profit, and civil society
organizations around the world. "Utthan has made remarkable strides on behalf
of disadvantaged communities in India, and we're delighted to think that the
Alcan Prize might further advance the fine work this organization does."
    Founded in 1996, the Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and
Poverty Alleviation operates in surface soil-mined areas around cities,
degraded forest lands, dry lands, and wastelands. Its projects cover
distressed migration areas; backward and inaccessible areas with disadvantaged
communities and poor communication; and areas with deficits in food,
nutrition, and health support. These include 10 districts in Uttar Pradesh,
two districts in Chhattisgarh, and four districts in Madhya Pradesh States.
    Utthan's mission is to create opportunities for sustainable economic,
social, and ecological development in south Asia by adopting and promoting
programs that are pro-disadvantaged community and pro-environment.
    Adrian Hodges, Managing Director of the IBLF, said, "The Alcan Prize for
Sustainability has been in place for four years and has importantly raised the
profile of pioneering NGOs like Utthan. People working in organizations like
Utthan deserve to be recognised for their efforts in helping make the world a
better place. The Alcan Prize is a tangible reward for Utthan's past
achievement and an award to support their future good work."
    "This funding and recognition is very significant for us," added Dr.
Tewari, President of the Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and Poverty
Alleviation. "The money associated with the Alcan Prize will allow us to do so
much more for disadvantaged communities. But, perhaps even more importantly,
the recognition of our efforts on the international stage will lead to
learning and partnerships that we might not have been able to access on our
own."
    The Alcan Prize annually recognizes NGOs, not-for-profit, and civil
society organizations working to build sustainable societies around the world.
Rio Tinto Alcan committed to nine years of funding in the first Prize cycle,
which is now in its fourth year. The Prize is managed independently by the
IBLF, and Rio Tinto Alcan does not have a voice on the international panel of
distinguished sustainability thinkers that annually reviews entries and
selects the winner.
    The recipient of the 2007 Alcan Prize will be celebrated in June 2008 in
Montreal during the International Economic Forum of the Americas (Conference
of Montreal).
    In addition to the US$1 million Prize, Rio Tinto Alcan awarded US$15,000
Training Grants to all nine remaining shortlisted organizations for the first
time this year. The Grants are awarded with the specific intention of
investing in certifiable training and capacity building for the organization.
    Previous winners of the Alcan Prize include the Forest Stewardship
Council (2004), the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services Pakistan (2005)
and The Barefoot College (2006).

    About Rio Tinto

    Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the
UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited,
which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
    Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral
resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and
uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and
iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia
and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe
and southern Africa.


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Winner Backgrounder

    Utthan: Centre for Sustainable Development
    & Poverty Alleviation, India
    http://www.sietalld.org/utthanindex.htm

    Background

    Founded in 1996, the Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and
Poverty Alleviation operates in surface soil mined areas around cities,
degraded forest lands, dry lands and wastelands. Its projects cover distressed
migration areas; remote and inaccessible areas with disadvantaged communities
and poor communication; and areas with deficits in food, nutrition, and health
support. These include 10 districts in Uttar Pradesh, two districts in
Chhattisgarh and four districts in Madhya Pradesh States.
    Utthan's mission is to create opportunities for sustainable economic,
social, and ecological development in south Asia by adopting and promoting
programs that are pro-disadvantaged community and pro-environment. It does
this through:-   Enhancing the economic, social, and ecological development of
        disadvantaged communities
    -   Managing natural resources and transforming them into assets for
        economic and environmental sustainability
    -   'Greening' for ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and
        mitigation and adaptation of climate change
    -   Aiding human development for adopting ways of economic growth and
        lifestyle that promote harmonious co-existence of human beings with
        nature
    -   Providing research and development support

    Impact Achieved

    Utthan has had an impact on a wide range of areas that relate to
sustainability. Some key examples include:

    -   Demonstrating agro forestry models that ensure security in food,
        fodder, fuel, herbal products, bamboo, and the sustainable productive
        potential of an area of one million hectares
    -   Identifying 'super clones' of Jatropha curcas, a plant used to make
        biodiesel; with community involvement, developed propagation
        techniques and demonstrated successful Jatropha growth on degraded
        lands with no other economic use. Today, Jatropha cultivation has
        spread over an area of more than one million hectares in South Asia,
        primarily in India.
    -   Regenerating and planting 62,500 hectares of degraded forests in
        Chhattisgarh, which has helped 85,000 tribal families secure their
        livelihoods and income
    -   Reclaiming 85,000 hectares of surface soil mined areas around cities,
        directly benefiting 90,000 families by adopting a watershed
        development program and promoting the planting of Bamboo, Jatropha,
        and medicinal plants thereby reducing the frequency of dust storms
    -   Demonstrating watershed management, rainwater harvesting, and ground
        water recharge in 20 community blocks
    -   Collecting superior clones of 40 important medicinal plants,
        developing their propagation and cultivation techniques, and
        harvesting, processing, packaging and marketing herbal products; also
        prepared a national task force report on medicinal plants and
        published 30 books on important species to share the knowledge
        acquired
    -   Immunizing 600,000 infants and children against six preventable
        diseases and polio, and providing full health coverage to more than
        300,000 people in 96 villages of the Kaurihar block of Allahabad
    -   Helping people become literate and economically productive through
        adult education programsShortlist 2007

    The following shortlisted entrants are awarded an Alcan Training Grant.
Valued at US$15,000, the Grant is awarded with the specific intention of
investing in a certifiable training program such as the Cambridge University
Post Graduate Certificate in Cross Sector Partnership.

    Centro de Servicios Educativos en Salud y Medio Ambiente - CESESMA,
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nicaragua

    CESESMA aims to promote and defend the rights of children and young
people, by awareness-raising in partnership with rural children and young
people, and other members of the community.

    FARM-Africa,
    ------------
    UK

    FARM-Africa's vision is of 'a prosperous rural Africa', where poor rural
communities produce enough food to survive and thrive without handouts.

    Institute of Integrated Rural Development - IIRD,
    -------------------------------------------------
    Bangladesh

    IIRD seeks to eradicate poverty through social and economic empowerment
of what it calls the 'hard-core' poor.

    Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat - KKPKP,
    ----------------------------------------------
    India

    KKPKP's mission is to upgrade the livelihoods of informal scrap
collectors and improve their conditions of work through their integration into
municipal solid waste collection, recovery and processing.

    Los Ninos,
    ----------
    USA

    The Mission of Los Ninos is to improve the quality of life by creating
opportunities for children and their families to realize their human potential
through participation in the development of their communities.

    M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation - MSSRF,
    ---------------------------------------------
    India

    The mission of the MSSRF is to harness science and technology for
sustainable management of natural resources, and creation of livelihoods.

    Ningxia Center for Environment and Poverty Alleviation,
    -------------------------------------------------------
    China

    Ningxia Center for Environment and Poverty Alleviation's mission is to
support rural communities in overcoming the interconnected problems of gender
inequality, poverty, and the environment.

    Rural Development Institute - RDI,
    ----------------------------------
    USA

    RDI's mission is to secure land rights for the world's poorest people.

    The Natural Step International - TNS,
    -------------------------------------
    Sweden

    The core purpose of TNS is to develop a genuine commitment to, and
competence in, sustainable development throughout society, using as a systems
approach for dialogue and decision-making.




For further information: Rio Tinto Alcan Media Relations, Montreal,
Stefano Bertolli, Tel.: (514) 848-8151, stefano.bertolli@alcan.com; Media
Relations, London, Christina Mills, Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 1154, Mobile: +44
(0) 7825 275 605; Nick Cobban, Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 1138, Mobile: +44 (0)
7920 041 003, Email: questions@riotinto.com, Website:
www.riotinto.com/riotintoalcan; Alcan Prize for Sustainability (IBLF), Leesa
Muirhead, Tel: +44-7901-510-701, alcanprize@iblf.org, Website:
www.alcanprizeforsustainability.com; Utthan Contact: Dr. Dina Nath Tewari,
+91-98261-24273