On Friday, September 27th, 2019 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) hosted the 2019 UN Champions of the Earth Award and the Young Champions of the Earth Prize. The ceremony, co-hosted by Alec Baldwin and Angelique Kidjo at Cipriani in New York City, honored 12 environmental changemakers from around the world.
The Champions of the Earth award – the UN’s highest environmental honour – is presented every year to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment. This year’s awards ceremony recognized laureates in the categories of Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision and Science and Innovation.
President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica accepted the Policy Leadership award on behalf of his country, which has shown exemplary commitment to the protection of nature and spearheaded ambitious policies to combat climate change.
Ant Forest, a digital Chinese initiative, won in the Inspiration and Action category. The mini-programme encourages users to record their low-carbon footprint through daily actions like taking public transport or paying utility bills online; for each action, they receive ‘green energy’ points, which accumulate and result in actual trees planted.
US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia received the 2019 Champions of the Earth award in the category of Entrepreneurial Vision for a dynamic mix of policies that has put sustainability at the heart of its successful business model.
Professor Katharine Hayhoe, a prominent Canadian climate scientist, was honored in the Science and Innovation category for her leadership in bringing climate impact assessments to audiences around the world, bringing a voice of urgency to this cause that is unparalleled, and her tireless efforts to transform public attitudes. Professor Hayhoe was a featured keynote at the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions and Parliament Chair, Audrey Kitagawa was invited to present the award during the ceremony. Enjoy images from the ceremony below.
The ceremony closed with a special recognition of Fridays for Future, the youth climate strike movement inspired by Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg, named Champion of the Earth for Inspiration and Action.