Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday received the United Nations Environment Programme’s “Champions of the Earth” award from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New Delhi.

Modi – who is one of the recipients of the award along with French President Emmanuel Macron – was recognised for his political leadership and his pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and for aiming to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022, said the world body.

Guterres said Modi has recognised the direct existential threat posed by climate change, reported the Hindustan Times. “He knows what we need to do to avoid a catastrophe,” Guterres added. “Other leaders also recognise, know and understand but the difference is that he not only recognises but he acts.”

Modi described the award as an honour for all Indians, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. “India’s population is committed to safeguarding the environment,” the prime minister said. “The world is now recognising India’s concern towards the environment but it’s been a part of our lifestyle for thousands of years.” He added that it was also “a proud moment for India because the Kochi Airport has also received the award”. “It also shows our seriousness towards caring for the environment.” Cochin International Airport is the world’s first solar power airport.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “When it comes to the environment, PM Narendra Modi has said on the world stage that India will always adhere to our commitments and complete our various targets before time.”