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UNEP honored Ant Forest in the ‘Inspiration and Action’ category for promoting greener lifestyles by encouraging users to record their carbon footprint through daily actions.

Costa Rica received an award for its commitment to address climate change, including through a detailed Plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050.

UNEP recognized ‘Fridays for the Future,’ for “electrifying the global conversation about climate change”.

Katherine Hayhoe, received an award for her role as one of the world’s “most influential communicators on the reality of climate change”.

UNEP lauded Patagonia as an example of “how the private sector can join the battle against climate change, biodiversity loss and other threats to human and planetary health”.

27 September 2019: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced the winners of the 2019 Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s flagship environmental award. UNEP recognized the five winners during an award ceremony during the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) High-level Week.

UNEP honored Ant Forest in the ‘Inspiration and Action’ category for promoting greener lifestyles by encouraging users to record their carbon footprint through daily actions like paying utility bills online and taking public transport. The Chinese digital initiative awards users green energy points for low-carbon actions, which can accumulate and contribute to planting trees. Over 500 million people use Ant Forest, and their actions have contributed to the planting of approximately 100 million trees in China.

Costa Rica received a 2019 Champions of the Earth Award in the ‘Policy Leadership’ category. UNEP recognized Costa Rica for its role in protecting nature and its commitment to address climate change, including through playing a leading role in encouraging countries to commit to more ambitious targets in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago, Chile. Costa Rica has prepared a detailed National Decarbonization Plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs, and aims to share this plan as a template for other nations to commit to and implement ambitious climate policies.

UNEP recognized ‘Fridays for the Future,’ the global student movement inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, for “electrifying the global conversation about climate change at a time when the window of opportunity to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures is rapidly closing.” UNEP recognized Fridays for the Future in the ‘Inspiration and Action’ category, highlighting the movement’s role in galvanizing millions of activists to join the movement and bringing “passion, hope and urgency to our efforts” to tackle climate change. Through Fridays for the Future, millions of students around the world have called on politicians to do more to acknowledge and act upon the urgent need for climate action. Thunberg welcomed the award, stressing that the world is “at a critical turning point and we cannot stay silent.” She vowed to keep demanding action to limit the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Katherine Hayhoe, a Canadian climate scientist and professor at Texas Tech University, received the award in the ‘Science and Innovation’ category. UNEP recognized Hayhoe for her research to quantify the effects of climate change, which has “informed climate resilience and enriched climate policy at a federal and local level across the US and beyond.” UNEP further praised Hayhoe for her role as one of the world’s “most influential communicators on the reality of climate change” and her ability to “help people connect the dots” between what they already care about and how they will be affected by a changing climate.

In the ‘Entrepreneurial Vision’ category, UNEP recognized the US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia for its commitment to sustainability in its business model and its advocacy for the protection of the planet’s resources. UNEP lauded Patagonia as an example of “how the private sector can join the battle against climate change, biodiversity loss and other threats to human and planetary health.” Patagonia updated its mission statement to respond to the urgency of the environmental crisis, saying “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Nearly 70% of Patagonia’s products are made from recycled materials, including plastic bottles. The company aims to use 100% renewable or recycled materials by 2025. In addition, Patagonia has contributed over USD 100 million to grassroots organizations engaged in the preservation and restoration of the natural environment though its ‘1% for the Planet Pledge.’

UNEP established the Champions of the Earth award in 2005 to celebrate outstanding figures whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. Since 2005, UNEP has recognized 88 Champions of the Earth, ranging from technology inventors to world leaders. [Champions of the Earth Webpage] [UNEP Press Release on Ant Forest] [UNEP Press Release on Costa Rica] [UNFCCC Press Release on Costa Rica] [UNEP Press Release on Fridays for the Future] [UNEP Press Release on Hayhoe] [UNEP Press Release on Patagonia]


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