Launched in 2005, the ‘Champions of the Earth’ awards recognise achievements of people from different categories
Winners of the United Nations’ flagship environmental prize, “Champions of the Earth”, for the year 2014, were announced last week.
Launched in 2005, the award recognises outstanding visionaries and leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and civil society action.
This year, eight winners were announced in five different categories.
In the “Policy Leadership” category, former Indonesian president, Susilo Yudhoyono, and president of the South Pacific island nation of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, were declared winners. While Yudhoyono was awarded for “being the first president from a major developing country to voluntarily pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, Remengesau won for “strengthening the economic and environmental resilience of Palau by spearheading national policies to protect biodiversity.”
The US Green Building Council was awarded in the “Entrepreneurial Vision” category, for “changing the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated.”
Eminent British environmental scientist, Sir Robert Watson, was awarded in the “Science and Innovation” category for promoting the science behind ozone depletion, global warming and the impacts of biodiversity loss.
In the “Inspiration and Action” section, Boyan Slat and Fatima Jibrell were declared winners.
Slat is the founder of “The Ocean Clean-up” initiative. He was awarded for charting new territory in his quest for a solution to the worsening global problem of plastic debris in the world’s oceans.
Somali-American Fatima Jibrell, the founder of Adeso (formerly Horn Relief) was awarded for building environmental and social resilience amidst war and devastation.
The “Lifetime Leadership” award went to ocean explorer and conservationist, Sylvia Earle, and Nobel laureate and renowned ozone scientist, Mario Molina.
Earle was awarded for developing global "hope spots" to safeguard the living systems underpinning global processes that maintain biodiversity.
Molina got his award for spearheading one of the most significant climate-related global agreements ever made.
All eight winners will be honoured by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner at an awards ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC on November 19.
Past award winners include Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union), Al Gore (United States), Felipe Calderon (Mexico), Mohamed Nasheed (The Maldives) and many other leaders on the environment and development front.
‘Champions of the Earth’ is sponsored, among others, by Chinese water purification products maker Guangdong Wealth, The Smithsonian Institution in the United States, National Geographic and The Washington Post.