Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the ‘United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth’ award from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at an award ceremony here on Wednesday. “It is an honour for Indians”, Prime Minister Modi said while mentioning that the award recognises a rich culture that has always seen God in nature. He said that the award recognises the Adivasis of India who “love their jungles more than their lives”, the fisherman of India who only take as much is required for sustenance, the farmers whose lives depend on the changing seasons and the women who are mindful about “reuse” and “recycle” and have lived by it every single day.
“Climate and calamity are directly related to culture; if climate is not the focus of culture, calamity cannot be prevented,” Prime Minister Modi said while accepting the award. He further said, “the world is recognising India’s dedication towards nature today, but this has been a part of our lifestyle since time immemorial.”
“When I say ‘Sabka Saath,’ I also include nature in it,” the Prime Minister added in his acceptance speech while highlighting the need for climate justice.
“India is counted amongst the fastest developing nations. Hence, infrastructure is being made keeping in mind inclusive growth and sustainable development,” he said at the event.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the steps which have been taken to make India environment-friendly. “India’s national highway and expressway are being made eco-friendly, while a ‘green corridor’ is in the pipeline. Urban transportation like metros are being powered by solar energy, while efforts are being made to reduce the railway’s dependence on fossil fuels.”
He also highlighted, “Right from households to offices, from nooks to highways and ports to airports, there is a campaign to conserve water and electricity”. He further said, “Technology is being promoted at every step, right from LED bulbs to rain-water harvesting”.
Prime Minister Modi ended his speech by proclaiming that the biggest achievement so far has been the attitudinal and behavioural change amongst the people.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while presenting the award to the leader, said: “in PM Narendra Modi, we have a leader who realises the issue of climate change and understands the benefits of climate action”. Guterres added, “He knows the problems and also works to solve them.”
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been jointly awarded the ‘UNEP Champions of the Earth’ award this year. Launched in 2005, the award recognises “outstanding” figures who have made a “transformative impact” on the environment.