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Six environmental trailblazers honoured as UNEP Champions of the Earth

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Friday, December 11 announced six winners of the 2020 Champions of the Earth Award for their pioneering initiatives aimed at healing the planet amid natural and man-made threats.

Yacouba Sawadogo
Yacouba Sawadogo, one of the awardees

According to UNEP, the six individuals bagged the prestigious award for demonstrating commitment to restore the health of ecosystems and advance sustainable development.

“This year’s Champions of the Earth have dug their heels in, faced down diversity and taken on the immense challenge of working to protect and restore our environment,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director.

“They not only inspire us, but they also remind us that we have in our hands the solutions, the knowledge and technology to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse. It is time for us all to act for nature,” she added.

This year’s Champions of the Earth Award paid tribute to trailblazers in a range of categories including Lifetime Achievement, Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneur Vision, Science and Innovation.

Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, was recognised in the policy leadership category for his global stewardship in climate response.

Yacouba Sawadogo, a farmer from Burkina Faso, was honoured in the inspiration and action category for helping his peers harness nature-based innovations to regenerate degraded landscapes.

Other trailblazers that were honoured include Nemonte Nenquimo, an Ecuadorian female green campaigner, who has been mobilising indigenous communities to promote conservation of the Amazon rainforest.

Fabian Leendertz, a German scientist, was honoured in the science and innovation category for groundbreaking research in zoonotic diseases while Mindy Lubber, an American social entrepreneur, was recognised for advocating greening of financial markets.

The Champion of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert D. Bullard, an American scholar, for promoting environmental justice.

“By amplifying news of the significant work being done on the environmental frontlines, the Champions of the Earth awards aim to inspire and motivate more people to act for nature, ” said UNEP.

The UN environment agency said the awards are part of its campaign to galvanise momentum for the global biodiversity summit to be held in Kunming in May 2021 alongside the climate change summit slated for November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

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