Washington D.C. -- The National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, has been announced as a winner of the UN's top environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth award.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said, 'The National Geographic Society is a unique organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to enlighten, excite and change the world. By engaging citizens and stakeholders in solutions-based thinking and dialogue, they directly address environmental issues that impact us all - from air quality and biodiversity to sustainable cities and ecosystem management.'
'In a year when the world aims to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals and sign a new agreement on climate change, the influence and leadership demonstrated by National Geographic is more important than ever.'
National Geographic is the foremost institution for inspiration and education through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism and research initiatives, and the award, in the Science and Innovation category, recognizes their achievements in environment and sustainable development.
Since its creation in 1888, the Society has funded thousands of research, conservation and education programmes around the globe to support the next generation of explorers and scientists as they push the boundaries of discovery and encourage citizen science. Many of these projects have elicited scientific breakthroughs and discoveries of new species.
Every month, National Geographic reaches more than 700 million people through its media platforms, products and events. The research, ground-breaking articles and stunning photography published in their magazines and publicized on television inspire people to care about the planet, giving them the transformational power to form opinion and influence the development trajectory of our planet.
Gary Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society said, 'We are honored to be named a 'Champion of the Earth' and proud to stand alongside the other awardees. We applaud the efforts of the United Nations Environment Programme to raise awareness around our planet's most pressing issues-whether it is conserving the ocean, halting biodiversity loss and the decline of endangered species, or preserving cultural treasures. This acknowledgement encourages us to continue to strive for meaningful solutions.'
The National Geographic Society has supported some of the most historic expeditions in the world, including: the first explorers to reach the North Pole, the discovery of Machu Picchu - a lost mountaintop city of the Inca, in the Peruvian Andes - and critical species studies including Jane Goodall's chimpanzee research in Tanzania's Gombe Stream Park Dian Fossey's mountain gorilla research in Rwanda.
National Geographic Explorer in Residence and marine biologist Sylvia Earle was awarded a Lifetime Achievement honor as a Champion of the Earth in 2014. Dr. Earle, named 'Her Deepness' by the New York Times has led more than a hundred expeditions and logged over 7,000 hours underwater including leading the first team of women aquanauts.
About Champions of the Earth
The annual Champions of the Earth award is the highest environmental accolade that the United Nations can confer upon outstanding individuals and organizations. Previous laureates of this inclusive award range from leaders of nations to grassroots activists - all visionaries whose leadership and actions drive the world ever closer to its aspirations of environmental sustainability and a life of dignity for all. To date, the Champions of the Earth has recognized 67 laureates in the categories of policy, science, business and civil society.
The National Geographic Society joins South Africa's Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit (Inspiration and Action) as the winners announced so far. The remaining laureates will be revealed throughout September. The awards will be handed out at a Gala Ceremony at the close of the Sustainable Development Goals summit, on September 27.