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Anders Bekeken

United Nations Champion of the Earth 2021: Six Laureates For Champion Of The Earth

Geschreven op 6-10-2015 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Niet gecategoriseerd Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Champions of the Earth28 december 2021: The Champions of the Earth award is the United Nation’s highest environmental honour.

It recognizes outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment.

Champions of the Earth inspire, defend, mobilize and act to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time.

Winner of the Lifetime Achievement: Known as the “Father of Environmental Justice”, Professor Robert D. Bullard is a scholar, activist and leader of the environmental justice movement. Through extensive research and advocacy, he has served as a catalyst of environmental racism for four decades.

Policy Achievement: When Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stood up in front of the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, she was not in a mood to pull punches. In front of world leaders, she decried the “faceless few” who were pushing the world towards a climate catastrophe and imperilling the future of small-island states, like her own.

“Our world knows not what it is gambling with, and if we don’t control this fire, it will burn us all down,” she said in September. Drawing on the lyrics of reggae great Bob Marley, she added: “Who will get up and stand up for the rights of our people?”

The impassioned speech would grab headlines around the world and for many, it was an introduction to Mottley. But the Barbados Prime Minister, this year’s Champion of the Earth for Policy Leadership, has spent years campaigning against pollution, climate change, and deforestation, turning Barbados into a frontrunner in the global environmental movement.

“Prime Minister Mottley has been a champion for those who are most vulnerable to the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution and waste” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Her passionate advocacy and policy achievements are prime examples of how world leaders can take bold, urgent action on environmental issues.”

Inspiration And action Award: To most people, fins, masks and neoprene wetsuits are recreational gear. But to the non-profit group SeaWomen of Melanesia, this year’s Champion of the Earth for Inspiration and Action, they are the tools of change.

Clad in diving gear, the group’s 30-plus members chart the health of the fragile coral reefs that surround Melanesia, a grouping of island nations in the South Pacific. Their goal: teaching local women scuba diving and biology skills so they can monitor the health of coral reefs and create and restore marine protected areas.

“I remember the first time I went and talked to a fishing village to try and recruit some women to join our programme,” recalled Israelah Atua, a member of the SeaWomen. “They didn’t even want to hear us. But we convinced them that marine conservation is necessary to protecting all of our livelihoods.”

The SeaWomen work in what’s known as the Coral Triangle, which covers some 5.7 million square kilometres between the Great Barrier Reef and the island archipelagos of Melanesia and South East Asia. Brimming with marine life, it is one of the world’s premier destinations for underwater tourism and home to a major fisheries industry. It is also exceptionally threatened by surging human populations and waste levels.

Coral reefs the world over are under siege from climate change, overfishing and pollution. Since 2009 alone, almost 14 per cent of the world’s corals have disappeared, according to a recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Many of those that remain are endangered.

Science and Innovation Award: It might have been the neighbor’s monkey which came downstairs to join her for piano lessons, or the wildlife club that she started in primary school in Kampala, Uganda. But from a very early age, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, this year’s Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation, knew she wanted to work with animals.

“Basically, pets were my first friends,” said Kalema-Zikusoka, a wildlife veterinarian by training who would go on to spend three decades helping to safeguard some of the world’s rarest primates, including endangered mountain gorillas. Much of her work has been in impoverished East African communities that border protected areas, where she has helped improve healthcare and create economic opportunities, turning many locals into partners in conservation.

“Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is a pioneer in community-led wildlife conservation,” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. “In many places, economic pressures can cause friction between humans and animals. But her work has shown how conflict can be overcome when local communities take the lead in protecting the nature and wildlife around them, creating benefits for all species.”

Supported by her family, Kalema-Zikusoka embarked on a global educational adventure, earning degrees in Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. In her early 20s, she returned to Uganda for an internship in, what would eventually become the locus of her future work, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park located in the country’s remote and impoverished southwest.

It was the beginning of gorilla tourism in Bwindi and Kalema-Zikusoka, then a young vet student, found that conservation wasn’t a simple process. “There were people focused on tourism and on community conservation,” she recalled. “There were wardens and rangers and the Peace Corps and lodges and by the end of my time there, I understood how complex tourism and conservation were.”

Kalema-Zikusoka would become the first-ever wildlife veterinarian for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. There, she began to apply what was a new approach to working for wildlife – one that centred on improving lives and livelihoods in the remote villages that surrounded Bwindi.

Entrepreneurial Vision Award: If a picture is worth a thousand words, for Maria Kolesnikova, this year’s Champion of the Earth for Entrepreneurial Vision, a picture was worth starting a movement.

It was 2016 and Kolesnikova, a public relations professional, then aged 28, was volunteering for MoveGreen, a youth-led environmental organization in the Kyrgyz Republic.

There, someone showed Kolesnikova a picture of Bishkek, looking down from the mountains that surround the Kyrgyz capital. “Only you couldn’t see the city,” she said. “Bishkek was just covered in this blanket of grey. We didn’t know what to call it; what we knew was that it was really bad.”

Bishkek, home to roughly 1 million people is among the world’s cities with the worst air pollution. During winter months, it is often trapped under a dome of smog derived both from its natural environment – the city’s temperature is, on average, 5°C warmer than its surroundings – and smoke from the coal used to heat most homes. “We wanted to understand more about what was in the air that we were breathing, and what data the city was collecting in order to try and make things better,” said Kolesnikova. “But we didn’t find any relevant, actual data – either it was not being collected or it was not being shared. So, we decided to produce data ourselves.”

MoveGreen started with just three sensors to measure air quality, namely, by monitoring for the first time in the Kyrgyz Republic, the levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) – produced by burning coal and other fuels, combustion, and dust. In high enough concentrations, it can cause inflammation of the lungs and other respiratory illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes up to 7 million deaths every year.

28 September 2018: Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers will be recognized today with a Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental honor.

This years’ laureates are recognized for a combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times.

The winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are:
Joan Carling is recognized 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. Her tireless and selfless fight for the environment has made her a champion to peoples and communities all over the globe.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are jointly recognized 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 program shows the transformative power of economic and environmental development together.

Cochin International Airport will take home 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.

Gator Halpern is the 2018 Young Champion of the Earth for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Young Champions of the Earth Prize is powered by Covestro.

He and his company Coral Vita have received many awards including: Forbes 30 Under 30, Echoing Green Fellowship, JM Kaplan Innovation Prize, Halcyon Incubator, WeWork Creator Award, Fast Company World Changing Idea and Yale University’s first ever Green Innovation Fellowship.

He and his company Coral Vita have received many awards including: Forbes 30 Under 30, Echoing Green Fellowship, JM Kaplan Innovation Prize, Halcyon Incubator, WeWork Creator Award, Fast Company World Changing Idea and Yale University’s first ever Green Innovation Fellowship. Follow them at: @CoralVitaReefs

6 October 2015: The largest Brazilian cosmetics producer and sustainable production pioneer, Natura Brasil is a Champion of the Earth. Natura, which will be awarded in the category of Entrepreneurial Vision, dedicates special attention to its suppliers and the 33 local communities it works with in order to ensure the sustainable supply chain of ingredients.

The Champions of the Earth award is the United Nations highest environmental honour recognizing visionary people and organisations all over the world that exemplify leadership and advocate action on sustainable development, climate change and a life of dignity for all. Past winners in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and civil society action include Sylvia Earle, Mario Molina, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Tommy Remengesau, Jr., Felipe Calderon, Tsakhia Elbergdoj, Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev and Marina Silva.

On 27 September 2015, UNEP honoured five individuals and organizations with the Champions of the Earth Award in New York. UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Ian Somerhalder emceed the Gala with Nikki Reed and fellow UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen attended the event and presented the final award.

2015 is the time for global action to adopt the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and to reach an agreement on climate change. The award supports this process by illustrating, through the examples of the laureates, that the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, inclusive and sustainable world is not just possible, but already in progress.

See also: United Nations Champions of the Earth 2011: And The Winners Are….

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