UN Champions of Earth award launches with plastic pollution focus

The international accolade honours individuals, groups, and organisations that have a transformative impact on the environment.

For 2023, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is looking for nominees that are working on sustainable solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. 

person standing on brown concrete building during daytime

Each year invaluable contributions to the environmental cause are recognised in four categories. These are Policy Leadership, Inspiration and Action, Entrepreneurial Vision, Science and Innovation, and Lifetime Achievement.

Criteria for selection include the ability to display tangible impact (including demonstration of replication and scaling potential), achieving or doing something new and novel, and the power of the nominee’s story.

2022’s winners included Arcenciel, an organisation created 30 years ago to support people wounded in the Lebanese civil war, which continues to help those in need. Its response to the Beirut port explosion in 2020 saw expertise in clothing and medical waste recycling deployed within humanitarian and clean up operations. 

Elsewhere, Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet also won, based Inspiration and Action criteria. The co-founder of Cameroon Ecology and President of the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests is one of the leading advocates of women’s land rights in African, having spent decades campaigning for gender equality. 

‘Women are really driving restoration. They are reforesting degraded areas, they plant trees, they develop nurseries. They do agroforestry. Even those engaged in livestock production have trees. They keep the forest alive,’ said Ndjebet. 

Nominations for the UN Champions of Earth award are open until 14th April 2023. You can find full details of eligibility here

Earlier this month, research published by the Gyres Institute suggested there were now more than 170trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean – a significant increase on the 16trillion estimated in 2005. Read the full story.

Image: Ameer Basheer



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