The Champions of the Earth award is the United Nation’s highest environmental honour. It recognizes outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment. Champions of the Earth inspire, defend, mobilize and act to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time.
Every year, individuals, groups and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the protection and restoration of the environment are recognized in four categories:
- Policy leadership
- Inspiration and action
- Entrepreneurial vision
- Science and innovation
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions are selected from over global 1,500 nominations. These are received from the public nomination process.
A team of UNEP staff and subject experts reviews and considers each nomination, creating a list of finalists. These are sent to a high level jury who select the laureates. In 2020, the jury consisted of five leaders of United Nations and other international organizations.
The criteria for selection are:
- Impact – Have the nominee’s actions resulted in profound environmental gains or demonstrated significant potential for replication and scaling?
- Novelty – Has the nominee done or achieved something new and innovative?
- Power of the story – How compelling and inspiring is the nominee’s story?
February 2021 – Deadline for submissions. All nominations must be received by 12 February 2021, accompanied by appropriate supporting materials.
March 2021 – UNEP review. Winners are shortlisted, and a team of UNEP staff reviews the list of nominees and prepares a shortlist to be submitted before a global jury.
April 2021 – Award laureates are chosen. A global jury consisting of high-profile individuals from different United Nations agencies and international organizations reviews the shortlist of nominations and selects their winning choice in each award category. Their decision is final.
May 2021 – Laureates are announced. Winners are announced globally, recognizing their considerable achievement.