Green Economy Takes Centre Stage at UNEP 2010 Champions of the Earth Awards
Winners from Afghanistan, China, Guyana, Japan and the Maldives are Recognized as Pillars of Transition to a 21st Century Green Economy
Seoul (Republic of Korea), 22 April 2010 - The 2010 Champions of the Earth, the United Nations' highest awards for environmental leadership, were announced today.
The six winners, drawn from the worlds of government, science, business and entertainment, each exemplify how action, inspiration, personal commitment and creativity can catalyze a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient 21st-century Green Economy.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, today announced the winners of this year's UNEP Champions of the Earth awards as:
- The President of Guyana and passionate forestry and ecosystem infrastructure proponent, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo
- The President of the Maldives and international climate change campaigner, His Excellency Mohamed Nasheed
- Afghanistan's Director General of the National Environmental Protection Agency and avid sustainability advocate, Prince Mostapha Zaher
- Japanese earth scientist and pioneer of research into how the oceans cycle carbon, Dr. Taro Takahashi
- Chinese actress and popular green life-style guru, Ms. Zhou Xun
- American venture capitalist, green energy entrepreneur and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Vinod Khosla.
The trophies were presented at a gala event in Seoul, Republic of Korea during Earth Day and in conjunction with the Business for the Environment Global Summit (B4E), which is being attended by more than 1,000 representatives from business, government, and civil society.
Mr. Steiner said: "The six winners represent some of the key pillars upon which society can build Green Growth and a development path to unite rather than divide six billion people. Entrepreneur Vinod Khosla has made it a personal mission to realize a low-carbon path by establishing investments in clean and renewable energy start-ups."
"President Nasheed is not only an articulate voice for the vulnerable and the poor facing the challenges of global warming, but a politician who is showcasing to the rest of the world how a transition to climate neutrality can be achieved and how all nations, no matter how big or how small, can contribute."
"Dr Takahasi has pioneered the science of climate change as it relates to the seas and oceans. In doing so, his work not only underlines the threats but also the policy choices governments and investors must make to ensure the marine realm remains healthy, productive and an ally against climate change."
"Prince Zaher has transformed environmental policy and laid the foundation for sustainability in one of the most challenging countries on the planet at this moment in history. He has balanced the day-to-day realities of Afghanistan with a determination that his country will have clean air and healthy water-backed by laws- upon which a sustainable and peaceful society can be built."
"Zhou Xun is an actress and one of, if not the, most popular and acclaimed celebrities in China. Her well publicized statements, advice and life-style choices are influencing millions of fans to become more environmentally-conscious citizens and consumers."
"Last but not least, President Jagdeo is a powerful advocate of the need to conserve and more intelligently manage the planet's natural and nature-based assets. He has recognized more than most the multiple Green Economy benefits of forests in terms of combating climate change, but also in terms of development; employment; improved water supplies and the conservation of biodiversity," said Mr. Steiner.
The awards, first established in 2004, recognize achievements in areas of: Entrepreneurial Vision, Policy and Leadership, Science and Innovation, Inspiration and Action, and a special category for 2010, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management.
The Champions of the Earth is an international environment award given out every year by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The award recognizes individuals who embody commitment and vision towards environmental leadership through their action and their influence. To date, the award has recognized 34 outstanding environmental leaders.