environmental leaders selected for their contributions to ecosystem restoration | News | SDG Knowledge Center

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has announced the 2021 winners of the Champions of the Earth Award, which recognizes environmental leaders from government, civil society and the private sector. The selected Champions projects are expected to strengthen the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). UNEP notes that neither the SDGs nor the Paris Agreement on climate change can be achieved without reviving ecosystems.The Decade is led by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aiming to prevent, halt and reverse the loss and degradation of ecosystems around the world, including by revitalizing billions of hectares, covering terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Neither the SDGs nor the Paris Agreement can be achieved without reviving ecosystems.

The environmental leaders selected as Champions of the Earth 2021 are:

  • Political leadership: Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, honored for sounding the alarm on the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change and driving climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean . Under Mottley’s leadership, Barbados adopted ambitious renewable energy targets and implemented conservation and restoration projects.
  • Inspiration and action: Melanesian sea womenselected to train local women in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to monitor and assess the impacts of coral bleaching on threatened reefs.
  • Science and innovation: Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, primate and zoonotic disease specialist, Uganda Wildlife Authority’s first wildlife veterinarian and head of Conservation Through Public Health.
  • Entrepreneurial vision: Maria Kolesnikova, youth advocate and head of MoveGreenan organization working to monitor and improve air quality in Central Asia, which has developed an app that collects data on the concentration of pollutants every 20 minutes from the Kyrgyz cities of Bishkek and Osh.

Announcing the awards, UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson said these four champions “remind us that we have the solutions, the knowledge and the technology in our hands to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse”.

As part of the Decade, UNEP and FAO will select ten beacons of global restoration – the earliest, best or most promising examples of large-scale, long-term restoration efforts – to be announced at the end of 2022. The headlights will be selected according to the 10 UN Decade Restoration Principles in one process led by the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Scientific working group and the Best Practices Working Group.

Applications for Restoration Beacons are expected by March 31, 2022. Decade partners will bestow “official UN Decade Beacon status” on selected efforts.

UNEP has also published the “Ecosystem Restoration Handbook: A Practical Guide to Healing the Planet”. It describes approaches to restoring eight key ecosystem types: forests, farmlands, grasslands and savannas, rivers and lakes, oceans and coasts, towns and cities, peatlands and mountains. . The 21-page guide aims to encourage the rebirth of ecosystems – which requires “careful planning and patient implementation”. It introduces a series of actions that can slow and halt the degradation of ecosystems and promote their recovery. [UNEP press release] [Decade on Ecosystem Restoration] [Publication: Ecosystem Restoration Playbook: A practical guide to healing the planet]

Donald E. Patel