Erik Solheim “Champion of the Earth” 2009

Erik Solheim (left) at director at UNEP, Achim Steiner. Photo: Ministry of Environment.

Erik Solheim (left) at director at UNEP, Achim Steiner. Photo: Ministry of Environment.

Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Cooperation, was today on Earth Day awarded “Champion of the Earth 2009″ for ”advocating climate action at national and global levels”. The winners were revealed at an international award ceremony in Paris.

Besides Solheim this year’s winners are:  tropical forest and climate campaigner Kevin Conrad; photographic and public awareness pioneer Yann Arthus-Bertrand; wind power entrepreneur Tulsi Tanti; biomimicry specialist Janine Benyus; recycling innovator Ron Gonen; and the Ethiopian youth organization Tena Kebena. No monetary reward is attached to the prize – each laureate received a trophy specially designed for the occasion and realized in environmentally-friendly materials.

“Passion, creativity, intellect, vision and drive unites each of our 2009 winners—key qualities urgently needed with less than 230 days to go to the crucial UN Climate Change Convention meeting in December,” Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director said as he presented the awards at the Paris gala.

UNEP’s Champions of the Earth Awards honors the best and brightest as they strive to take action for our planet through their inventive thinking and successful execution. In response to the UN-wide call to UNite to combact climate change, Champions of the Earth winners represent the cutting edge in innovative thinking and execution of these efforts, writes United Nations Environment Programme ( on their website.

The United Nations Environment Programme established Champions of the Earth in 2005 as an annual awards programme to recognize outstanding environmental leaders at a policy level. Six awards are given out each year to a Laureate representing different geographical regions with one additional special prize.

This awards programme is a successor to UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honor.

Solheim was appointed to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s second government as Minister of International Development on 17 October 2005.

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