Press Releases May 2011 - UN Announces Winners of Flagship Environment Award - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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UN Announces Winners of Flagship Environment Award

New York / Nairobi, 10 May 2011 - Mexican President Felipe Calderon, global music legend Angélique Kidjo and adventurer Louis Palmer are among the five winners of the 2011 Champions of the Earth awards, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced on Tuesday.

They received their awards at a ceremony hosted by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Gisele Bündchen, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, along with fellow laureates green entrepreneur Zhang Yue and scientist and campaigner Dr. Olga Speranskaya.

From using green technology to cut air pollution in China, to tackling the impact of toxic chemicals in Eastern Europe or crossing the globe to fly the flag for solar power, this year's award winners are environmental champions whose daily work, leadership and advocacy represent green innovation in action.

The full list of the 2011 Champions of the Earth is as follows:

  • Policy Leadership: President Felipe Calderon (Mexico) for commitment to lead international efforts to combat climate change

  • Science and Innovation: Dr. Olga Speranskaya (Russia) for successfully mobilizing civil society in eliminating obsolete pesticides and toxic chemicals in the former Soviet region.

  • Entrepreneurial Vision: BROAD Group / Mr. Zhang Yue (China) for business leadership on energy efficiency and sustainable production.

  • Inspiration and Action: Mr. Louis Palmer (Switzerland) for raising global awareness of the need for renewable energy and sustainable transport and Ms. Angélique Kidjo (Benin) for advocacy on social equity and women empowerment in support of sustainable development

"The 2011 Champions of the Earth winners are inspirational examples of how people from all walks of life are coming up with exciting, innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Whether through their business ventures, leadership, campaigning efforts or passion for technology, they are real examples of the global transition towards a more sustainable Green Economy", said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"As the world prepares for the UN Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro next year, these five Champions of the Earth demonstrate how collective, positive action - from greener cars and air conditioning to tackling harmful pesticides or advocating for global action on carbon - can help tackle climate change and deliver environmental sustainability for communities and economies in all parts of the world", added Mr. Steiner.

The award ceremony followed a high-level policy dialogue, Getting to Grips with the Green Economy.

Featuring UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, Executive Coordinator of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Elizabeth Thompson and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, Rafael Elvira Quesada, the event was an in-depth debate on the progress and challenges towards the global transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economy.

Moderated by TIME Magazine senior reporter Bryan Walsh, the interactive session explored different visions of the Green Economy in the developed and developing countries, the role of a Green Economy in eradicating poverty and how to calculate the cost of a transition towards a more sustainable global economic model.

The Champions of the Earth event ran parallel to the 19th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development at UN headquarters in New York. The Green Economy - along with international environmental governance reform is one of two central pillars of the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20), to be held in Brazil next year.

Launched in 2005, Champions of the Earth is the UN's flagship environmental award. To date, it has recognised 46 individuals and organizations for their leadership, vision, inspiration and action on the environment.

The diverse list of previous Champions laureates include former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, Chinese actress and environmental advocate Zhou Xun, the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and Dr. Atiq Rahman, an author and sustainable development expert from Bangladesh.

Full Release

2011 Champions of the Earth (l-r) Angélique Kidjo, President Felipe Calderon, Louis Palmer, Zhang Yue, Dr. Olga Speranskaya



Further Resources

UNEP Champions of the Earth

Video profiles of 2011 Champions of the Earth

Acceptance speech of President Felipe Calderon

Video of award ceremony

UNEP Green Economy Initiative


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