Champions of the Earth 2020 award winners

This award from the UN Program for the Environment seeks to raise awareness of people who have dedicated themselves to improving their society through environmental achievements .

Nemonte Nenquimo

Nemonte, an environmental activist, was one of the winners selected by the UN. / Photo: IG-nemonte.nenquimo

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Ganadores del premio Campeones de la Tierra 2020

Since 2005, UNEP has awarded the Champions of the Earth award annually , which seeks to make visible the work of individuals, groups and institutions committed to the environment and the fight for a sustainable world. This award is presented in five categories: political leadership, inspiration and action, entrepreneurial vision, science and innovation and life trajectory .

For the 2020 award there were six people chosen to win the award, these are the first three winners.

Mindy Lubber, winner of the Entrepreneurial Vision category

This American is the CEO and president of Ceres, a non-profit organization that is in charge of showing "investors and multinational corporations how to consider sustainability risks such as climate change, water pollution and deforestation in what they do and how they invest " . Under his leadership, Lubber has focused on improving regulatory and policy systems so that multinationals take into account climate risks in their productions and that they align with the purposes of the Paris Agreement agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Lubber says this is critically important because "it's not just about politics and people. They are also markets because we like it or not, they drive so much of the world." Bearing in mind that the goals we have to stop climate change will not be met if these large companies and markets do not commit themselves, the work that Lubber is doing is visionary, since, based on studies and concrete data, it convinces investors and corporations of the importance of investing in environmentally friendly technologies .

Robert Bullard, winner of the Life Path category

The American sociologist and activist is recognized for having conducted one of the first ethnographic studies of its kind, identifying polluting neighborhoods, residents and industry in order to collect data so that his wife, Linda McKeever Bullard, could sue the state of Texas because " a waste disposal company was trying to install a landfill in the center of a middle-class black community in Houston. "

Although they failed to win the trial, Bullard's study set a precedent, as this was the first lawsuit in the United States to establish a correlation between polluting factors and a clear case of environmental racism . From this, Bullard directed his research to the point of becoming a movement for environmental justice. This award was presented to Bullard for having achieved that two movements that initially believed they had nothing to do with each other, such as the environmental movement and the civil rights movement, will find that there was more than one reason to merge and confront a problem that is systematic.

Nemonte Nenquimo, winner of the inspiration and action category

This environmental activist is the leader of the Waorani community, an Amerindian town located in the southern Amazon, and is considered by Times magazine one of the 100 most influential people of 2020 . With the premise of wanting her four-year-old daughter to be able to live in peace and surrounded by the Amazon rainforest, Nenquimo has continued the legacy that her ancestors left her. "I grew up surrounded by the songs of the wise men of my community who said that the green forest that we see today is there because our ancestors protected it," she says.

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She, who claims to have "warrior blood" has taken the lead in her community and in February 2019 filed a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government because senior officials did not consult the community before offering a large territory of the Amazon jungle to companies. oil companies. According to UNEP, it is estimated that more than one million indigenous people belonging to approximately 400 communities live in the Amazon forests. For Nenquimo, it is therefore unthinkable that central governments do not take them into account, as this means that they do not respect their communities, traditions, lifestyle, and much less their rights to land.

Nenquimo's fight paid off when in April 2020 the Pastaza Provincial Court decided to protect 500,000 acres of Waorani territory in the rainforest . In addition, in June of the same year, it was ordered to improve the monitoring of drug trafficking and illegal mining and logging. For Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, "Nenquimo's victory in the lawsuit was a fundamental moment for the indigenous communities of the Amazon basin."

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