Champions of the Earth

UN Environment recognized six of the world’s most outstanding environmental change-makers with a Champions of the Earth Award—the United Nations’ highest environmental honour—on the sidelines of the seventy-third session of the UN General Assembly in September. Weibo, China’s microblogging and social media giant, supports the awards.

Lifetime achievement

Joan Carling received an award for 20 years of work as one of the world’s most prominent defenders of environmental and indigenous rights. Her tireless fight has made her a champion to peoples and communities across the globe.

Science and innovation

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods received recognition for developing popular, plant-based substitutes for beef and for educating consumers about environmentally conscious alternatives.

Policy leadership

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, were recognized for championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new environmental cooperation, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s pledge to eliminate single-use plastics in India by 2022.

Inspiration and action

Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programme scooped an award for transforming a once heavily polluted area of rivers and streams in East China. This eco-restoration programme shows the transformative power of economic and environmental development together.

Entrepreneurial vision

Cochin International Airport (India) was awarded for leadership in sustainable energy. As the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, Cochin is showing that global movement doesn't have to harm the environment.


The second edition of the Young Champions of the Earth saw seven trailblazers between the ages of 18 and 30 receive US$15,000 in seed funding, training and mentoring for their ambitious ideas to restore and protect the environment. The award is backed by Covestro, a leading manufacturer of polymer materials.

The winners were:

Shady Rabab, for addressing poverty and waste management in Egypt by making musical instruments from trash and training young people in a band.

Hugh Weldon, for a smartphone app that calculates ecological footprint based on shopping receipts.

Heba Al-Farra, for support to female professionals working in energy and environment across the Middle East and North Africa.

Arpit Dhupar, for a ground-breaking technique that filters 90 per cent of particulate matter from diesel generators and turns it into ink.

Miao Wang, for her Better Blue initiative, which empowers divers to conserve and protect the ocean.

Miranda Wang, for her technology to turn plastic pollution into new resources for a sustainable economy.

Gator Halpern, who launched a network of coral farms to restore endangered reefs.