Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation

President Kagame named Champion of the Earth, receiving highest United Nations Environment Award

New York, 04 December 2016 - The United Nations Environment Programme has honoured President Paul Kagame with the 2016 Champion of the Earth award for Policy Leadership. The prize is the United Nation’s highest environmental honour and was given to President Kagame in recognition of Rwanda’s outstanding achievements in environmental protection.

The country’s commitment to combatting illegal forestry, restoring vital wetlands, protecting the habitat of endangered gorillas, becoming one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of plastic bags and hosting the Montreal Protocol meeting this year that passed the Kigali Amendment are just some of the reasons President Kagame was named one of this year’s Champions of the Earth.

Speaking about the prize, Head of the UN Environment Programme, Erik Solheim, said, “President Kagame exemplifies the leadership needed around the world to confront the environmental challenges we face today and for our future generations. He has placed the protection of the environment at the heart of Rwanda’s national development strategy, displaying an acute understanding that good environmental stewardship is vital for our economies and well-being.”

Rwanda’s commitment to ecosystem restoration, in particular, is proof that meeting environmental challenges can generate income and still meet growing consumption needs of a developing population. In fact, under Kagame’s leadership and vision, Rwanda has shown that countries stand to gain exponential economic benefits if ecosystems are kept healthy and productive.”

The environment is at the heart of Rwanda’s development,” said President Kagame on receiving the award. “By protecting our natural heritage, including the endangered mountain gorilla and ancient rainforests, and by involving everyone in conservation, we are ensuring that our development is sustainable and brings prosperity to all citizens. These efforts are driven by shared political will and a commitment to a bright future for generations to come.”

Minister of Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, accepted the award on behalf of the President at a reception hosted by the Government of Mexico at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancun.

About the Champions of the Earth Award

The annual Champions of the Earth prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment. The Champions of the Earth award began 12 years ago and is the United Nations' highest environmental honour recognising visionary people and organisations all over the world that exemplify leadership and advocate action on sustainable development, climate change and a life of dignity for all.

President Kagame was awarded alongside Afroz Shah, Indian environmental organizer (Action and Inspiration); Moroccan Sustainable Energy Agency, MASEN (Entrepreneurial Vision); Jose Sarukhan Kermez, Mexican research biologist (Life-time Achievement); Leyla Acaroglu, Australian sustainability innovator (Science and Innovation); and a posthumous Action and Inspiration award for Berta Cáceres, Honduran rights campaigner killed in March 2016.

Source: Office of the Government Spokesperson

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