Two African leaders named 2016 Champions of the Earth

Two inspirational African environmental leaders are among the six recipients of the 2016 Champions of the Earth award.


Copyright: UNEP

H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, received this top environmental accolade for his outstanding policy leadership outstanding in fighting climate change and in national environmental action.

Masen – the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, received its award for its entrepreneurial vision and for its commitment to advancing solar power, making solar energy affordable and innovative approaches to green financing.


H.E. Kagame and Masen are among 78 Champion of the Earth laureates from around the world who represent outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector that are positively impacting the environment.

The annual award recognizes outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a significant positive impact on the environment.

From an indigenous activist killed for protecting the environment, to the world’s largest beach clean-up organizer, this year’s awards recognize bold visionaries who confront the defining challenges of our generation, such as climate change, marine litter and the depletion of natural resources.

Each of the laureates, in different ways, shows how shifting the world onto a path that is low-carbon, efficient, inclusive, and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable is not only possible, but already in progress.

The other 2016 laureates are: 

  • Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design, New York, Eco Innovators, Melbourne, and UnSchool, for dedication to positive change through design, innovation, communication and human connection. 
  • Afroz Shah, for outstanding leadership and initiative in mobilizing large-scale public support to remove 3000 tonnes of litter from Versova beach in Mumbai.
  • Berta Cáceres, recognized posthumously for her tireless campaign for the rights of indigenous people in Honduras and the protection of their natural environment.
  • José Sarukhán Kermez, for a lifetime of leadership and innovation in the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico and around the world.

Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, said: “All around the world, we have seen significant efforts to translate last year’s historic sustainable development agreements into action, from the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the New Urban Agenda to the intensifying of efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. But governments know they cannot do it alone, and this year’s Champions have demonstrated the vision and engagement needed at all levels to improve our stewardship of the planet, to develop it sustainably, and secure the prosperity of all of its people.”

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply