UN Announces Winners of ‘Champions of the Earth’ Awards
United Nations (New York), 08/12/2021 (MAP) – A Caribbean-based prime minister, a scientist, a group of indigenous women, and an entrepreneur were announced on Tuesday as this year’s winners of the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth awards.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the all-female Champions were chosen for their impact and leadership in advancing bold action on behalf of people and the planet.
“These Champions of the Earth inspire, defend, mobilise and act to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time, including ecosystem protection and restoration”, the agency said in a statement.
The Champions of the Earth award is UN’s highest environmental honor. For the 2021 prizes, UNEP received a record number of nominations from all over the world.
The agency’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen, said the winners’ profiles “demonstrate that all of us can contribute.” The entire spectrum of humanity “has both a global responsibility and a profound opportunity.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados was honored in the Policy Leadership category for her “powerful voice” for a sustainable world coming from the global south, consistently raising the alarm about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States.
UNEP calls the Prime Minister “a driving force” for climate action across the Latin American and the Caribbean region, the first region to agree on the Action Plan for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.
The Sea Women of Melanesia, from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, were recognized in the Inspiration and Action category. The group trains local women to monitor and assess the impacts of widespread coral bleaching on some of the world’s most endangered reefs using marine science and technology.
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, from Uganda, was given the top honor in the Science and Innovation category. She was the first-ever wildlife veterinarian of the Uganda Wildlife Authority and is a recognized world authority on primates and zoonotic diseases.
Finally, Kyrgyzstan’s Maria Kolesnikova was honored in the Entrepreneurial Vision category. She is an environmental activist, youth advocate and head of MoveGreen, an organization working to monitor and improve air quality in Central Asia.
This year’s awards highlight the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which runs until 2030, coinciding with the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.