Entrepreneurs, policymakers, academics and activists from around the world have been honoured for their contributions to fighting environmental issues this week.
Brian McCledon, Vice President of Google Earth was among those given the title of laureate for his work on the online tool, which has found a number of environmental uses like uncovering deforestation and classifying land cover.
The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) ‘Champions of the Earth’ awards were presented by the organisations Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bundchen at an event in New York.
Government figures show deforestation in Brazil has been cut down by 84% over the last eight years and the country’s Minister of Environment, Izabella Taxeira was also made a UNEP laureate for her contribution to the reversal.
A professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Veerabhadran Ramanathan received an award for his research into how cutting ‘black carbon’ – or soot – can significantly reduce climate change.
Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment was championed for reducing food waste, through setting 2020 target for the EU to chop food waste in half and eliminate the need for landfills.
He said: “It is an honour and a privilege to receive the ‘Champions of the Earth Award’.
“This year we reached World Overshoot Day on 20 August. This means that for the rest of this year we will be living from natural overdraft because our resource consumption for this year has already exceeded the planet’s ability to replenish.
“We have based our development on cheap and abundant resources. But the basis for that growth model is no longer there. Business as usual is no longer an option.”
Awards also went to Mexican environmental activist Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, Jack Dangermond from the Environmental Systems Research Institute and creator of the Slow Food movement Carlo Petrini.
The inaugural C40 and Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards were held in London earlier this month.