'In ten months this Foundation has discovered more environmental solutions in this region than we have in 30 years. I recommend that we work with them.'
Madame Sorgho-Mouliniere, Director UNDP Europe, Geneva, June 2005
EARTH CHAMPIONS : WHAT WE DO
Since its inception on 8th September 2000, Earth Champions has been supported by global leaders who include Nelson Mandela, who gave the first award, Al Gore, Sir Richard Branson and the Hong Kong Secretary of State.
The Earth Champions initiative is based on the principle that both small and significant solutions to many environmental problems can be found within communities, by individuals, organisations and government. And that it is these very people who are best equipped to inspire, lead and teach others.
The role of the Earth Champions Foundation is to nurture and protect the environment through initiating change within local communities.
The Earth Champions Quest invites the community to nominate those outstanding and everyday people or organisations that are actively working in the areas of water, energy, transport, air, biodiversity, waste management, built environment and wellbeing.
These unsung local heroes, who are striving to protect the environment without recognition or reward, are nominated from within communities.
Through this initiative, they can become recognised leaders and mentors in community programmes that bring people together, empower them and show them how to make change.
Nominees are interviewed and then reviewed by the Earth Champions International Advisory Committee, chaired by Sir Crispin Tickell, which includes the UN Environment Programme.
All nominees are celebrated at an Earth Champions awards ceremony and a Community day is held showcasing innovations.
Communities are then invited to learn and adopt the best practices in programmes led by local Earth Champions.
With the Champions at the helm, community environmental programmes are put in place with the support of the community and the Earth Champions Alumni.
In turn, as programmes embed within the community and become
‘best practices’, these are shared with other communities around the world and are available to learn from within the Knowledge Pond.
Another key aspect of the programme is the State of the Local Planet Report that records the conditions and status of the local environment in simple and easily understood language. This acts as a 'here-and-now' report from which change and improvements made through the Earth Champions programme can be measured and recorded.
HOW IT WORKS
The program has eight phases:
STATE OF THE LOCAL PLANET
Nelson Mandela presenting the first Earth Champions Award to Gina Litton in Australia
EARTH CHAMPIONS: THE HISTORY
The Earth Champions Foundation has undertaken Quests in Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia, developing a knowledge base of world class ideas evaluated by an international panel of experts. This inspirational Foundation implements its grass roots initiative every four years in a different city around the world. The programme lasts for one year during which Earth Champion nominations take place, hero’s are celebrated and community programmes are designed according to proposed future initiatives.
The first Earth Champions Award presented by Nelson Mandela in Melbourne, on the 8th of September in 2000, went to Gina Litton of Western Australia for her work saving the Old Great Jarrah Forests.
A second Australian programme was held in Byron Shire, in 2002. Residents were invited to nominate their own ecological heroes and the result was 47 Earth Champions.
At the launch of the Canton Vaud Earth Champions Quest, which took place at the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 2006, Mr Daniel Zurcher (Director, Environment Technology Services, Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forest and Landscape BUWAL) spoke on the importance of fostering local commitment on issues of internationally recognised concern.
Achim Steiner, Director General IUCN, now Director of UN Environment Programme also welcomed the Earth Champions programme and of the 76 Earth Champions, said ‘This is the first time we have found local, Swiss, heroes’.
In 2008, Christine Loh helped to initiate the Hong Kong programme with the support of the Fu Tak Iam Foundation and the Hong Hong Gorvernment.
The Hong Kong Earth Champions Quest was launched on 1 August 2008 at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Central, Hong Kong, which attracted 27 media stories.
The programme was met with great enthusiasm with 239 Earth Champion nominations in just 8 weeks.
In June 2014 Mayor George Ferguson launched the Bristol Region Quest at the Arnolfini Theatre in Bristol. Sir Crispin Tickell, Dr Edward de Bono and The Young Stars spoke at the event.
The Foundation Received 127 nominations of which 71 were awarded Earth Champions at the ceremony at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in June 2015.
Director General of the IUCN Ms Inger Andersen presided over the awards saying 'I am so pleased to be following in the footsteps of my predecessors and supporting the Foundation, their work is extremely valuable".
The Earth Champions Foundation was invited to speak twice at the Royal Geographical Society and to participate at the Clinton Global Initiative in Hong Kong.