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8 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Seven Champions of the Earth

Seven Champions of the Earth

UN Environment honoured seven new Champions of the Earth and feted the inaugural class of Young Champions at a ceremony on December 5 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The awards ceremony also served as the gala dinner for the 2017 UN Environment Assembly, which saw more than 4,500 representatives of government, business, and civil society convene in the Kenyan capital for the high-level gathering on the environment.

The evening began with Young Champions of the Earth, an initiative launched in 2017 that aims to identify, support and celebrate young people who have outstanding potential to create positive impact.

“We, the young people of the world, have inherited a beautiful planet, but it’s under immense pressure,” said UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Ellie Goulding as she introduced the 2017 Young Champions. “We represent the single largest generation that the world has ever seen. We are also the first generation to grow up with an understanding of climate change and possibly the last generation to have the chance to prevent its most disastrous effects.”

Moving to the Champions of the Earth portion of the programme, Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Environment Deputy Executive Director, said: “I am always astonished at how much our champions achieve. This year’s are no exception: they embody the commitment, vision and energy that we so desperately need.”

In the category of policy leadership, the Champions of the Earth award went to Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, for her outstanding leadership in creating marine protected areas and boosting renewable energy.

Paul A Newman and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center were both laureates in the category of Science and Innovation in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the Montreal Protocol – which has phased out 99 percent of ozone-depleting substances and led to the healing of the ozone layer.

“Satellite ozone observations are part of the Montreal Protocol’s science foundation. But the science puzzles are not easily solved. The keys are the observations, and these come from the hard work and dedication of thousands,” Newman said.

Mobike, the world’s largest smart bike-sharing company, garnered the award in the category of Entrepreneurial Vision. After two years of operation, the platform claims over 100 million registered users across more than 100 cities globally, servicing over 20 million rides a day.

“Today, it seems that the humble bicycle can not only change people and cities, but can also help change the world – both as a universal symbol of peace, and as a weapon in the fight against climate change,” said Wei Wei Hu, Mobike founder and president, in accepting the award on her company’s behalf.

In the category of inspiration and action, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski was recognised for his work on spreading powerful environmental messages to a global audience. Orlowski is the force behind Chasing Ice, a 2012 documentary focused on climate change that has been screened in over 172 countries. The sequel, Chasing Coral, examines the effects of ocean warming and acidification on these vulnerable ecosystems.

China’s Saihanba Afforestation Community was also named Champion of the Earth for inspiration and action, in honour of its work transforming degraded land into a lush paradise.

In accepting the award on behalf of the Saihanba community, Chen Yanxian said: “For more than half a century, three generations followed just one mission in Saihanba, which is to plant trees with our hearts and souls, and turn the barren hills into green mountains. We feel very proud of ourselves for creating such a green miracle.”

In Lifetime Achievement category, Wang Wenbiao, Chairman of Elion Resources Group, got the award for a lifetime of leadership in green industry.

“Our marathon of desertification control has not come to an end,” Wang said. “On the conviction that ‘green mountains with clear water are silver and gold mountains,’ I will continue my marathon run from Kubuqi to the countries along the Belt and Road, and across the world, to fight against deserts for more oases and happiness.”

“Our champions and young champions are living proof that amid today’s environmental, social and economic challenges, there are incredible opportunities for inspirational leadership, fresh approaches and innovative solutions,” said Dia Mirza, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India, who hosted the award ceremony. “They are shining examples of how far we have already come in the movement toward sustainable development.” n



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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