A Caribbean-based prime minister, a scientist, a group of indigenous women, and an entrepreneur dominated the United Nations’ highest environmental honor in 2021. “These Champions of the Earth inspire, defend, mobilize and act to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time, including ecosystem protection and restoration”, the agency said in a statement.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) chose all-female Champions for their impact and leadership in advancing bold action on behalf of people and the planet. The award recognized laureates in four categories: Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision, and Science and Innovation.
The agency’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen, said the winners’ profiles demonstrate that all of us can contribute: “Every single act for nature counts. The entire spectrum of humanity has both a global responsibility and a profound opportunity”.
POLICY LEADERSHIP: Mia Mottley
The Prime Minister of Barbados was called “a driving force” for climate action across the Latin American and the Caribbean region, the first region to agree on the Action Plan for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. She leads the charge against climate change.
INSPIRATION AND ACTION: The Sea Women of Melanesia
In South Pacific, the female divers push to save endangered coral reefs. The group from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands trains local women to monitor and assess the impacts of widespread coral bleaching on some of the world’s most endangered reefs using marine science and technology.
SCIENCE AND INNOVATION: Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
CEO and founder of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), from Uganda, the veterinarian helped revolutionize conservation in Africa, leading the implementation of three integrated strategic programs.
ENTREPRENEURIAL VISION: Maria Kolesnikova
The environmental activist is a youth advocate and head of MoveGreen, an organization working to monitor and The environmental activist uses data to take on air pollution. She is a youth advocate and head of MoveGreen, an organization working to monitor and improve air quality in Central Asia.
“This year’s Champions are women who not only inspire us, but also remind us that we have in our hands the solutions, the knowledge and the technology, to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse”, UNEP’s Executive Director said.