Each year at TIME International we produce a double issue that celebrates the year's heroes those from all walks of life, famous or not, who have made a difference in our lives. But 2007 has been no ordinary year; it has been the time when issues to do with the environment species depletion, air and water pollution, and of course climate change have forced their way into our debates, whether we have them around the family dinner table, or in the conferences where the world's leaders meet.
To recognize that environmental questions had found a new salience in the global conversation this year, we decided that our Heroes issue would concentrate on those who are trying to take a lead in addressing pressing questions of sustainability. As always, we used TIME's unparalleled team of global correspondents to ferret out those we thought worthy of the honor, from the new Nobel Peace Prize laureate to a Zambian antipoaching activist, from the President of tiny Palau, with a population of 20,000, to the Chancellor of Germany. "The environment isn't bound by borders on the map," says TIME's senior environmental writer, Bryan Walsh, "and neither are our heroes. So we selected candidates from developed countries, where environmentalism has had time to take root, and from developing nations, where tomorrow's green battles will be fought."
Walsh and William Green, TIME's Europe editor, whose idea the package was, pressed on me one other requirement environmental challenges are so manifold that it will need many skills to solve them. Some of our heroes walk deserts and jungles; others do no less valuable work in corporate offices or university labs such as Abul Hussam, whose SONO filter removes arsenic from drinking water. To quote Walsh again: "You don't have to be an environmentalist to be a hero of the environment. The threats that face the planet are so varied from widespread species extinction to dwindling natural resources that we'll need front-line activists and boardroom tycoons in equal measure."
Putting together an issue of this size and complexity is an exercise in teamwork, above all. The issue was edited in our London office under Green's leadership, with James Graff and Jim Frederick pitching in with editing help. Charlotte Greensit Reid kept her usual sharp eye on the logistics of the operation, while our photo and art teams in London, led by international art director Cecelia Wong and picture editor Mike Bealing, were their usual dependable and creative selves. Wong also came up with another of her wonderful covers but then, at TIME, we're almost used to her doing that. And online executive producer Glen Levy has posted stunning environmental photo essays, plus links to an array of past stories, at time.com/heroes2007
I'm enormously grateful to all of them for the hard work they have put in over the last few months. There's much to do if we are to leave our planet in a fit state for those who come after us, and I trust that you will enjoy this celebration of some who are showing us the way.
Michael Elliott, Editor,
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