The United Nations recently handed out its highest environmental accolade the Champions of the Earth award during a global conference on biological diversity in Cancún, Mexico. Six environmental leaders representing government, research and grassroots action received the award.
The annual award recognises outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a significant positive impact on the environment.
Each of the laureates, in different ways, shows how shifting the world onto a path that is low-carbon, efficient, inclusive, and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable is not only possible, but already in progress.
The 2016 winners are:
For Policy and Leadership
Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, for outstanding leadership in fighting climate change and in national environmental action.
For Science and Innovation
Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design, New York; Eco Innovators, Melbourne; and UnSchool, for dedication to positive change through design, innovation, communication and human connection.
For Entrepreneurial Vision
Masen - the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, for its commitment to advancing solar power, making solar energy affordable and innovative approaches to green financing.
For Inspiration and Action
Afroz Shah, for outstanding leadership and initiative in mobilising large-scale public support to remove 3000 tonnes of litter from Versova beach in Mumbai.
Berta Cáceres, recognised posthumously for her tireless campaign for the rights of indigenous people in Honduras and the protection of their natural environment.
Lifetime Achievement Award
José Sarukhán Kermez, for a lifetime of leadership and innovation in the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico and around the world.
"All around the world, we have seen significant efforts to translate last year’s historic sustainable development agreements into action, from the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the New Urban Agenda to the intensifying of efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking," said head of UN Environment Erik Solheim.
"But governments know they cannot do it alone, and this year’s champions have demonstrated the vision and engagement needed at all levels to improve our stewardship of the planet, to develop it sustainably, and secure the prosperity of all of its people.”