UNEP Announces the 2009 Champions of the Earth
Winners from Ethiopia, India, France, Norway, Papua New Guinea and United States Receive Coveted Awards at Gala Event in Paris
Paris, 22 April 2009 - Six tireless innovators of positive environmental change and an inspirational anti-poverty organization from Africa were today named as the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) 2009 Champions of the Earth.
This year's winners are: Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim; tropical forest and climate campaigner Kevin Conrad; photographic and public awareness pioneer Yann Arthus-Bertrand; wind power entrepreneur Tulsi Tanti; biomimicry specialist Janine Benyus; recycling innovator Ron Gonen; and the youth-empowering Ethiopian organization Tena Kebena.
All seven laureates gathered in Paris on Earth Day to receive their trophies at a gala event attended by more than 200 personalities from business, politics and civil society.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, who presented the awards to the winners, said: "Today we celebrate and honour seven catalysts of positive environmental change who, through the worlds of politics, business, science, photography, resource efficiency and civil society have challenged the status quo and demonstrated across communities and countries new and transformational solutions to persistent and emerging environmental threats."
"Passion, creativity, intellect, vision and drive unites each of our 2009 winners - key qualities urgently needed with less than 230 days to go to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in December. Qualities also essential to turn the current and coming crises into an opportunity to realize a sustainable, Green Economy for the 21st century," he said.
This year, the awards - which are hosted in conjunction with the annual Business for the Environment Summit (B4E) - moved away from geographical distribution to recognize achievements in the areas of Policy Leadership, Science and Innovation, Entrepreneurial Vision, Inspiration and Action, and Next-Generation Champions.