To get an idea of some of the world’s greatest environmental leaders, consider the winners of some of the most prestigious environmental awards bestowed in the world. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized, from 1987 – 2003, individuals with outstanding environmental achievements with the Global 500 Roll of Honour. Currently, the UNEP bestows the Champions of the Earth award annually upon “some of the best and brightest individuals – those who take action through visionary thinking, unwavering dedication and action towards global green growth.” Global 500 Laureates are listed online at: http://www.global500.org/rollofhonour.html and Champions of the Earth can be found at: http://www.unep.org/champions/.
Among these prestigious laureates are familiar names like Al Gore, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Al Gore was named a Champion of the Earth in 2007, “for making environmental protection a pillar of his public service and for educating the world on the dangers posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions.” His Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, brought the theory of global warming to the forefront of public discourse. Gore is arguably one of the most renowned environmental leaders in the U.S. today.
Van Jones is a prominent green leader in the United States, and founder of the Green For All initiative. He believes that solving the clean energy crisis is exactly what America’s struggling economy needs. By overhauling our infrastructure and creating a clean energy economy, we would also create millions of jobs, especially engineering and manufacturing jobs that Americans have lost. He thinks it’s especially important for poor people and minorities to become more involved with the green movement.
I’ll add Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist. She has been advocating and teaching about conservation for years.
One green leader I recently became aware of is Richard Reynolds, a thirty-something Londoner who began “guerrilla gardening” a few years ago by surreptitiously beautifying his neighborhood with plants and seeds. He began writing a blog about his activities and began connecting with other people who were gardening on land that didn’t belong to them, and eventually wrote a book, “On Guerrilla Gardening” that is part history, part guidebook on the activity. He may not be a high-profile activist, but he has certainly made an impact on a large community of people and helped encourage others to go out and beautiful their own neglected environments.
Some one who has used their fame to raise awareness on environmental issues is David de Rothschild. You may have heard of Plastiki, the catamaran made entirely of recycled plastic bottles which sailed from San Francisco to Syndey last year. It was inspired by the UNEP ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’. I thought it was an interesting way to generate both publicity and knowledge regarding both the huge amount of permanent plastic in the world and the degree of its pejorative effects on the environment, particularly the oceans.
I consider Anderson Cooper a prominent green leader. Wanting to be an accomplished journalist I am inspired by what Anderson Cooper does. He has covered multiple events, and has published books where the proceeds are donated to charity. I appreciate a lot that he does and look to him for inspiration when I am covering events.
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