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People

Majora Carter

The founder of a non-profit environmental activist organization, Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), in one of New York City’s poorer areas, Majora Carter has become one of the city’s best-known advocates for environmental justice. Soon after its establishment the SSBx was engaged in a battle over New York City’s plan for a large solid waste management plant on the local waterfront. Having successfully diverted these plans, Carter and the SSBx went on to other projects including building a highly successful urban greencollar job training and placement system, developing a green-roofing business to reduce cooling costs and conserve water, and creating the South Bronx Greenway, a $330 million, 10-mile cycling-and-walking path linking eight acres of parkland. Carter is a former winner of the MacArthur Foundation award.


Saba Douglas-Hamilton

Born in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, Saba Douglas- Hamilton was introduced to her first wild animal when just six weeks old. It was an elephant being studied by her zoologist father, Dr. Iain Douglas- Hamilton, in Tanzania. After earning a first class degree in social anthropology, her first job was with Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Later, Douglas-Hamilton joined her father’s charity, Save the Elephants, as its chief executive officer to establish a research centre in Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya. Here she was “talent-spotted” by the BBC Natural History Unit and her life as a wildlife filmmaker began. Best known for following leopards in the popular series Big Cat Diary, she has filmed wildlife all over the world. In 2009 she was one of the faces fronting UNEP’s Seal the Deal campaign.


Harold A. Mooney

Among many other outstanding and prolific contributions to environmental science, Harold A. Mooney, has championed the idea that biodiversity is central to ecosystem functioning. His work has been influential in shifting the perspective from a species-centered approach to one based on ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity. A Professor at Stanford University, Mooney’s achievements include being the co-chair of the scientific panel of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a deep involvement in the recently fruitful efforts to establish the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, editing some 25 books, and the enviable record of having had his research cited in over 12,000 scientific papers since 1988. In this, the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity it is very fitting that Professor Mooney won the Volvo Environmental Prize.


Michelle Bachelet

On 14 September 2010, Michelle Bachelet was named Under-Secretary-General for the new “superagency”, UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Ms. Bachelet is a pediatrician and epidemiologist, and a popular former President of Chile. She has already commenced work in her new post, and the agency will be launched in 2011. UN Women will incorporate the four existing United Nations gender agencies, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).


David de Rothschild

Sailing across the Pacific Ocean on a sail boat made from 12,000 re-used plastic drink bottles held together with glue made from cashew nuts sounds like a seriously audacious mission. But that’s exactly what David de Rothschild has done to spread his seriously important environmental message. De Rothschild, leader and founder of Adventure Ecology, and the crew of the Plastiki, undertook their fully sustainable expedition to alert the world to the shocking and unnecessary effects of single-use plastics on the health of our oceans and its inhabitants. It’s estimated that annually, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they become entangled in or ingest plastic pollution. Plastiki is an intriguing environmental “message in a bottle” to raise awareness, beat waste and throw a spotlight on solutions.


Thuli Brilliance Makama

Thanks largely to the efforts of Thuli Brilliance Makama, a landmark court ruling in Swaziland has given hope to disenfranchised local communities neighbouring privately owned game reserves. In the name of conservation, local people have been increasingly forced off of their traditional lands and persecuted for continuing the hunting and gathering practices necessary for their survival. A 2002 amendment to the Swaziland Environment Authority Act, designed to give local communities a say in environmental management decisions was ignored by the then Minister of Environment. NGOs were effectively excluded from filling their allotted position on the Management Board of the Swaziland Environment Authority. Makama challenged the Minister’s actions in Swaziland’s High Court. In 2009 the Court ruled that that environmental groups will now have a place on the Management Board. For her efforts, Makama was awarded a 2010 Goldman Environment Prize.


Marina Silva

Marina Silva has been a tireless fighter for the protection of the Amazon rainforest. She has championed conservation while taking into account the perspectives of people who use forest resources in their daily lives. As a member of Brazil’s senate, she successfully legislated for rainforest preservation, defended her people against poverty and protected their way of life. As a former Minister of the Environment she made a remarkable contribution to preserving the biologically rich Brazilian Amazon. A substantial decrease in deforestation in recent years is undoubtedly linked to a new Government process implemented by her and fundamentally based on the idea of a cross-cutting approach to environmental issues. In addition to being a UNEP Champion of the Earth, Silva is the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Sophie Prize for the environment.


Sir Richard Branson

Critics accuse him of self-interest and a conflict of interest, but whatever your take, Sir Richard Branson has an undeniable ability to keep climate change solutions in the headlines. In 2006, the British billionaire pledged $3 billion for the development of clean fuels and renewable energy. In 2007, he offered a staggering $25 million prize for anyone who could come up with a system for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The following year, his airline company Virgin Atlantic flew a demonstration flight with a 747 jumbo jet whose fuel contained a small percentage of biofuel. He’s also one of the generals in the Carbon War Room, a high-profile group whose aim is to harness the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change.