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UN Unveils Winners of 2020 Global Climate Change Action

The recipients of the 2020 United Nations Global Climate Action Awards were announced on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, shining a light on some of the best examples of what people across the globe are doing to combat climate change in a year that has cast darkness upon so many.

These include 13 award-winning projects that fall within three focus areas: Climate Neutral Now, Women for Results, and Financing for Climate Friendly Investment. All activities will be showcased at a series of special online events in November and December.

Climate Neutral Now:

  1. Interface (a pioneering flooring-manufacturer that has transformed its business to have zero negative impact on the planet),
  2. Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort (the Caribbean’s first – and only – hotel to achieve carbon neutral certification, and now working to go carbon negative),
  3. Signify (a major multi-national lighting company that has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 70% and has transformed all of its global markets to carbon neutrality), and
  4. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (the first carbon neutral airport in North America, now implementing a Renewable Natural Gas Initiative).

Financing for Climate Friendly Investment:

  1. Payments for Environmental Services Programme (a financial mechanism that promotes forest ecosystem conservation – the first of its type in the country and the region),
  2. The Luxembourg Green Exchange (the world’s first platform fully dedicated to green bonds, now expanded to include social and sustainability bonds as well as SRI funds),
  3. Global Himalayan Expedition (one of the world’s first organisations using the force of tourism coupled with technology to bring solar energy to remote communities), and
  4. C40 Cities Finance Facility (a facility that enables cities in developing and emerging economies to develop finance-ready projects that address climate change).

Women for Results:

  1. Elemental Excelerator (the first organisation to apply a technology accelerator model to addressing climate change, investing in startups with the potential to decarbonise economies),
  2. Nature-Based Solutions to Increase Urban Adaptability (a landscape architect who is building innovative landscape solutions, making Bangkok more resilient to climate change),
  3. Health In Harmony (an organisation that reverses deforestation by meeting the health & economic needs of local communities through women-led innovation),
  4. Bioplanet Programme (a Brazilian company that has found a technological way to reuse residual kitchen fats to produce biodiesel), and
  5. RISE2030 (a Lebanese community-led initiative that launched the first all-women solar team in Lebanon to challenge the gender stereotypes in the male-dominated construction sector).

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “The last eight months have been a nightmare for many throughout the world. COVID-19 has altered lives, economies and the nature of business on every continent – from the largest cities to the smallest villages. It is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.”

“The convergence of these two crises has opened a window of opportunity to build forward – to build cities and communities that are safe, healthy, green and sustainable,” Ms. Espinosa added. “Nothing exemplifies this better than the efforts of our 2020 award-winning activities to address climate change.”

This year’s award-winning projects, according to the UN Climate Change, demonstrate leadership on climate change by nations, businesses, investors, cities, regions and civil society as a whole. They range from the Caribbean’s only carbon-neutral hotel, to the world’s first platform fully dedicated to green bonds, to the first all-women solar team in Lebanon.

“I congratulate the winners of the 2020 UN Global Climate Action Awards, who provide tangible proof that climate action is under way around the world,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “It is exciting to see these climate solutions, which reinforce my call for decisive leadership on climate change by governments, businesses and cities, and for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us keep pressing ahead to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”

Tuesday’s announcement is part of the wider effort to mobilise action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, says that UN body.

It also sets the stage for two upcoming events in the climate change calendar: the Race To Zero Dialogues from November 9 to 19, which will serve as critical input to the UNFCCC Climate Dialogues from Nov 23 to Dec 4, which are advancing work governing the rules of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The UN Global Climate Action Awards are spearheaded by the Momentum for Change initiative at UN Climate Change. The projects are recognised as innovative solutions that not only address climate change, but also help drive forward progress on many other sustainable development goals, for example, innovation, gender equality and economic opportunity. The 2020 winning activities were selected by an international Advisory Panel as part of the UN Climate Change’s Momentum for Change initiative.

“It is crucial we celebrate all actors who are leading the way,” said Gabrielle Ginér, Chair of the Advisory Panel. “The recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Awards send a strong political signal to all nations – and through their leadership and creativity, we see essential change.”

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