Bet on ‘green economy’, Guterres urges world leaders, bestowing top UN award on Indian PM

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday conferred the organization’s highest environmental honour on India’s Prime Minister, recognizing Narendra Modi’s efforts against climate change and pollution.

Established by UNEP in 2005, the Champions of the Earth award recognizes “outstanding leaders” from Government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Prime Minister Modi has been recognized for his extensive efforts to control plastic pollution, including a pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022. He has also been recognized for his joint initiative with French President Emmanuel Macron to champion the International Solar Alliance – a global partnership to scale up solar energy use and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

“Prime Minister Modi represents an extraordinary legacy,” said Mr. Guterres at the “Champions of the Earth” award ceremony, in the Indian capital New Delhi. “He not only recognizes, knows and understands” the benefits of taking action to stop global warming, said the UN chief, but also “acts with enormous energy to make this change. And this leadership is today more necessary than ever.”

In his prize-giving speech, Guterres called on other world leaders to draw lessons from India and apply them in their own circumstances to “win the race against climate change.”

He also highlighted that climate action and development are not contradictory but are mutually supportive.

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