The United Nations Environment on Wednesday named Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cochin International Airport among its six Champions of the Earth Awardees. The international organisation’s highest environmental honour recognises six outstanding change makers for their achievements in policy leadership, entrepreneurial vision, science and innovation, inspiration and action, and lifetime achievement.
Kerala’s Cochin Airport was named change maker in the entrepreneurial vision category for its use of sustainable energy. The airport is the world’s first fully solar-powered airport.
Modi will share his award honour with French President Emmanuel Macron in the policy leadership category. The organisation said the leaders had done pioneering work in “championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action”.
It praised Macron for his work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi for his pledge to eradicate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
The organisation also named indigenous rights activist Joan Carling the recipient of its lifetime achievement award, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods joint winners in the science and innovation category. China’s Zhejiang Green Rural Revival Programme got the award for inspiration and action for its transformation of a heavily polluted area of rivers and streams.
UN Environment chief Erik Solheim said the awardees are changing the world for a better tomorrow. “In a world of uncertainty, this is certain: We will not solve the extraordinary challenges our world faces today without extraordinary talent, new thinking and bold ideas,” Solheim said. “The Champions of the Earth Award and Young Champions of the Earth Prize recognize those not afraid to chart unknown waters or be the voice of the voiceless.”
The awards will be presented during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. Mumbai-based Afroz Shah was a previous recipient of the award for the “world’s largest beach cleanup”.