Press releases April 2009 - UNEP Announces the 2009 Champions of the Earth - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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UNEP Announces the 2009 Champions of the Earth

Winners from Ethiopia, India, France, Norway, Papua New Guinea and United States Receive Coveted Awards at Gala Event in Paris

Paris, 22 April 2009 - Six tireless innovators of positive environmental change and an inspirational anti-poverty organization from Africa were today named as the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) 2009 Champions of the Earth.

This year's winners are: Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim; tropical forest and climate campaigner Kevin Conrad; photographic and public awareness pioneer Yann Arthus-Bertrand; wind power entrepreneur Tulsi Tanti; biomimicry specialist Janine Benyus; recycling innovator Ron Gonen; and the youth-empowering Ethiopian organization Tena Kebena.

All seven laureates gathered in Paris on Earth Day to receive their trophies at a gala event attended by more than 200 personalities from business, politics and civil society.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, who presented the awards to the winners, said: "Today we celebrate and honour seven catalysts of positive environmental change who, through the worlds of politics, business, science, photography, resource efficiency and civil society have challenged the status quo and demonstrated across communities and countries new and transformational solutions to persistent and emerging environmental threats."

"Passion, creativity, intellect, vision and drive unites each of our 2009 winners - key qualities urgently needed with less than 230 days to go to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in December. Qualities also essential to turn the current and coming crises into an opportunity to realize a sustainable, Green Economy for the 21st century," he said.

This year, the awards - which are hosted in conjunction with the annual Business for the Environment Summit (B4E) - moved away from geographical distribution to recognize achievements in the areas of Policy Leadership, Science and Innovation, Entrepreneurial Vision, Inspiration and Action, and Next-Generation Champions.

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Further Resources

Photo Gallery: UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Ceremony

UNEP Champions of the Earth Website

UNEP Champions of the Earth 2009 Trophy

UNEP Champions of the Earth Podcast by Executive-Director, Achim Steiner

UNEP Champions of the Earth Expert: Lucita Jasmin

B4E, Business for Environment Global Summit 2009

B4E Podcast by UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

Remarks at B4E by UNEP Chief Scientist, Joseph Alcamo

Watch Videos featuring UNEP Champions of the Earth Winners


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