Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron have been jointly awarded with the UN's highest environmental honour for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron have been jointly awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honour for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action. Modi and Macron are among the six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers recognised with the Champions of the Earth Award. “This years’ laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times,” the UN Environment Programme said. Modi and Macron have been jointly 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 the French president’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s “unprecedented” pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an Indian initiative jointly launched by Modi and the French president in November 2015 in Paris on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN Climate Conference. The ISA is a treaty-based international body for promotion of solar energy in alliance with solar-rich countries located fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with 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,” UNEP said.
The other winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are Joan Carling, 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. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are 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. China’s Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programme is 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 programme shows the transformative power of economic and environmental development together. “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 recognise 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 will be 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, will bring 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).