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Modi receives Champions of the Earth award for enviornmental policy leadership


New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday received the United Nations’ highest environmental honour, the "UNEP Champions of the Earth" award for championing the International Solar Alliance and pledging to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022. United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres presented the award at a special ceremony in the national capital.Modi has got the award jointly with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, for his unwavering commitment to tackling climate change around the world. The United Nations Environment Programme in a statement said the Indian prime minister and the French president were recognised in the Policy Leadership category "for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022." Receiving the award, Modi said, "I accept this award on behalf of millions of Indians who protect the environment each and every day... From fisherfolk who only take what they need or tribal communities who think of forests as their family," Modi said receving the award. "We will never be able to tackle climate change without bringing climate into our culture. And this is why India is taking so much action for our climate," he said, stressing that a clean and green environment is at the root of his government's policies. The UNEP said that under Modi's leadership, Indian sustainable policy implementation and green grassroots initiatives have flourished, with 40 million new cooking gas connections and over 300 million LED bulbs being installed across the country. A major push towards renewable energy in recent years has propelled India to become the fifth largest producer of solar energy and the sixth largest producer of renewable energy worldwide. "We have also pledged to get rid of single-use plastics by 2022," he said in his speech. Taking further advantage of the current momentum to tackle pollution across India, UN agency announced a long-term partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry to reduce plastic waste. Through the launch of an ‘un-plastic’ initiative, the partnership will explore new ways to offer the private sector the chance to turn an environmental challenge into new opportunities, exploring new markets. “Prime minister Modi’s unprecedented bold stance in the fight against single-use plastic sent a clear message to the world that the time for action is now,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “It is ambitious leaders like him that will propel us forward in the fight to keep our natural environment healthy, accessible and sustainable for all." The annual ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize, announced on September 26, is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

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