New Delhi, Dec 11 : Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been awarded the UN’s highest environmental honour in the Policy Leadership category for his global climate action work and his commitment to climate-responsive national development.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annually recognises outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector for the Champions of the Earth award.
This year’s awards, announced virtually on Thursday, recognise six laureates in the categories of Lifetime Achievement, Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision and Science and Innovation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were jointly awarded this environmental honour in October 2018 for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.
Congratulating this year’s laureates, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “In the middle of a global pandemic, with societies struggling, economies stretched to their limits and an escalating biodiversity and climate crisis, we need to act boldly and urgently to repair our relationship with nature and take the path of sustainable development.
“Each year, the UN honours these environmental champions for their leadership and vision. Their efforts confront the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”
UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen said: “This year’s Champions of the Earth have dug their heels in, faced down adversity and taken on the immense challenge of working to protect and restore our environment.
“They not only inspire us, they also remind us that we have in our hands the solutions, the knowledge and the technology to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse. It is time for us all to act for nature.”
The other 2020 Champions of the Earth recipients are Fabian Leendertz of Germany who has been honoured in the Science and Innovation category for his discoveries in zoonotics and his work in One Health.
Mindy Lubber of the US has been recognised in the Entrepreneurial Vision category for her commitment to turning capital markets green by mobilising top investors and companies and making the business case for climate action and sustainability.
Nemonte Nenquimo of Ecuador has been awarded in the Inspiration and Action category for her leadership and unifying work with indigenous communities that halted drilling in the country’s Amazon rainforest.
Yacouba Sawadogo of Burkina Faso has been honoured in the Inspiration and Action category for teaching farmers his traditional nature-based solution to regenerate their soil and turn barren land into arable land and forest across Africa.
This year’s champions are joined by Robert D. Bullard of the US who has been awarded the Earth Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment and service to environmental justice.
Since its inception in 2005, the Champions of the Earth award has recognized 95 laureates, including 24 world leaders, 57 individuals and 12 organizations.
Past laureates include, among others, former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, the climate change youth movement Fridays for Future, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, American statesman Al Gore, and the National Geographic Society.
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