The United Nations has recognised David Attenborough’s enormous impact on the global environmental movement, awarding him the ‘Champions of the Earth’ lifetime achievement award. This award pays tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to combating crises such as climate change, the loss of species and pollution.
“Sir David Attenborough has devoted his life to documenting the love story between humans and nature, and broadcasting it to the world,” said UNEP chief Inger Andersen.
“If we stand a chance of averting climate and biodiversity breakdowns and cleaning up polluted ecosystems, it’s because millions of us fell in love with the planet that he showed us on television.”
Attenborough received a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University in 1947 but soon discovered that he did not have the disposition for a life of research. So he made his way into the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) just as television was creeping into homes.
In addition to his work in the media, Attenborough is one of the leading voices in the global environmental movement. He has been part of historic summits, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, where he called for a unified global effort to combat threats to Earth.
He has also collaborated with UNEP for at least four decades, lending his voice to a series of campaigns and short films that have highlighted the organization’s efforts to combat the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and pollution.
For decades, Attenborough has been consulted by world leaders for solutions to crises facing the natural world and, perhaps, for a jolt of their enthusiasm.
In 2015, he visited the White House to speak with US President Barack Obama, who asked Attenborough what had caused his “profound fascination” with the natural world.
This Lifetime Achievement Award is given in a historic year for the global environmental community – 2022 marks 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. Recipients are selected by the Executive Director of UNEP, who also confers the award.