New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron have been awarded the UN’s highest environmental honour–‘Champions of the Earth’. Modi and Macron have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action.

Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers have been recognised with the Champions of the Earth Award. “This years’ laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times,” the UN Environment Programme said.

MEA spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, also shared this news. “It’s a big honour to receive such award together with the President of France…It’s a big honour not only for PM Modi but also for India: Raveesh Kumar, MEA on PM Modi & French President Macron getting UN’s highest environmental honour, ‘Champions of the Earth’,” he said.

It is be noted here that India and France are in news over the Rafale deal. The deal became a controversial issue when a report in the French media quoted former president Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian partnership in the Rafale deal was chosen at the behest of New Delhi. Francois Hollande stated that France did not have a choice when the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy. “Cochin is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn’t have to harm the environment. As the pace of society continues to increase, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is proof positive that green business is good business,” UNEP said.

The other winners of the 2018 Champions of the Earth Awards are Joan Carling, recognised with the lifetime achievement award for her work as one of the world’s most prominent defenders of environmental and indigenous rights. Carling has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years.

The awards will be presented during the Champions of the Earth Gala in New York City, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. The gala, hosted by actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin and model, actress, producer, and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza, will bring together a cross-section of world leaders and influencers to celebrate momentum for change in defense of our one planet.

The Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental recognition celebrating exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment. Past laureates include Afroz Shah, who led the world’s largest beach cleanup (2016), Rwandan President Paul Kagame (2016), former US Vice-President Al Gore (2007), Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat (2014), scientist-explorer Bertrand Piccard, and developer of Google Earth Brian McClendon (2013).

(With agency inputs)