The awards recognised six of the world's biggest changemakers . While PM Narendra Modi was recognized in the Policy Leadership category, Cochin International Airport takes home the award for Entrepreneurial Vision.
Finally, an award from the UN that is not fake news. Announced yesterday, the Champions of the Earth Awards, the UN’s highest environmental honor, was presented to six outstanding environmental change makers. The champions are recognized for their achievements in the categories including Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision, Science and Innovation, Inspiration and Action, and Lifetime Achievement.
Recognized for his bold environmental leadership on the global stage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been bestowed with the ‘Champion of the Earth’ award in the policy leadership category. The award is due recognition for Mr Modi’s initiative in founding the International Solar Alliance, besides the aggressive push on renewables and plastics pollution. All hot button areas for the Earth today.
“UN Environment is recognizing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his bold environmental leadership on the global stage. Under Modi’s leadership, India pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics in the country by 2022. He also supports and champions the International Solar Alliance, a global partnership to scale up solar energy,” read the UN’s citation for this year’s winner.
Recognized in the same category, President of France, Emmanuel Macron won the ‘Champion of the Earth’ for his work on the Global Pact for the Environment. “President of France, Emmanuel Macron has put climate action at the top of his foreign agenda. He is recognized for championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting international cooperation on environmental action, and for his leadership on the Global Pact for the Environment,” read his citation.
For the record, the ISA is seeking to create 1 TW of renewable capacity using solar, at an estimated cost of $ 1 trillion. Easily the biggest, and most ambitious effort for renewables currently.
Taking home the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, Cochin International Airport was recognized for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. Cochin International Airport is the world’s first solar powered airport. Its entire operations are powered by solar energy. The fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international traffic, Cochin International Airport became the world’s first fully solar powered airport in 2015, under the guidance of Managing Director Vattavayalil Joseph Kurian.
Joint winners of the Champions of the Earth Award, in the Science and Innovation category are Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. They produce a sustainable alternative to beef burgers that are more environmentally friendly and rival the taste of meat. With a common belief that there is no pathway to achieve the Paris climate objectives without a massive decrease in the scale of animal agriculture.
China’s Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programme was awarded for Inspiration and Action for the transformation of a once heavily polluted area of rivers and streams in East China’s Zhejiang province. 97% of villages in the province have transformed their polluted waterways into clean, drinkable rivers, benefitting 30 million residents.
And lastly, recognized for her work as one the world’s most prominent defenders of environment and indigenous rights for well over two decades. Joan Carling, member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, was awarded the ‘Champion of the Earth’ Lifetime Achievement award. She has been defending land and environmental rights of indigenous people for more than 20 years. Active participant in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and REDD+, she has twice served as Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and was Chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
“In a world of uncertainty, this is certain: We will not solve the extraordinary challenges our world faces today without extraordinary talent, new thinking and bold ideas,” said Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim. “The Champions of the Earth Award and Young Champions of the Earth Prize recognize those not afraid to chart unknown waters or be the voice of the voiceless. These people are changing our world today for a better tomorrow.”