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Outstanding environmental changemakers receive UN’s Champions of the Earth award

Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers were recognised on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 with a Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental honour.

Champions of the Earth award
The Champions of the Earth awardees

This years’ laureates were recognised for a combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times. The winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are:

  • Joan Carlingis recognised with the lifetime achievement award for her work as one of the world’s most prominent defenders of environmental and indigenous rights. Carling has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years. Her tireless and selfless fight for the environment has made her a champion to peoples and communities all over the globe.
  • Beyond Meat and Impossible Foodsare jointly recognised in the Science and Innovation category, for their revolutionary development of a popular, plant-based alternative to beef, and for their efforts to educate consumers about environmentally conscious alternatives.
  • Emmanuel Macron, President of France and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, are recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
  • China’s Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programmeis awarded for Inspiration and Action for the transformation of a once heavily polluted area of rivers and streams in East China’s Zhejiang province. This exceptionally successful eco-restoration program shows the transformative power of economic and environmental development together.
  • Cochin International Airportwill take home the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. Cochin is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn’t have to harm the environment. As the pace of society continues to increase, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is proof positive that green business is good business.

“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.”

The awards were presented during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. The gala, hosted by actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin and model, actress, producer and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza, brought together a cross section of world leaders and influencers to celebrate momentum for change in defense of our one planet.

The Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental recognition celebrating exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment.

Past laureates include: Afroz Shah, who led the world’s largest beach cleanup (2016); Rwandan President Paul Kagame (2016); former US Vice-President Al Gore (2007); Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat (2014); scientist-explorer Bertrand Piccard; and developer of Google Earth, Brian McClendon (2013).

Also honoured at the event were seven environmental trailblazers between the ages of 18 and 30, taking home the coveted Young Champions of the Earth Prize, for their ambitious project ideas to restore and protect the environment.

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