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UN Honors Sir David Attenborough as ‘Champion of the Earth’ on World Environment Day

UN Honors Sir David Attenborough as ‘Champion of the Earth’ on World Environment Day

David Attenborough
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As communities across the planet celebrated World Environment Day on 5 June, we are taking you back to the 1950s when broadcaster extraordinaire Sir David Attenborough went from zoologist to climate activist, winning the UN’s highest environmental award.

We must feel that we are all citizens of this one planet because unless we do, we won’t solve the problems,” Mr. Attenborough said in an interview with the UN.

Over the course of his more than 70-year-long career at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the legendary natural history broadcaster, who turned 98 last month, managed to bring the farthest reaches of planet Earth into the homes and hearts of millions, from Zoo Quest in the 1950s to his Planet Earth trilogy in the 2020s.

Delivering an electrifying speech at the opening of the World Leaders Summit on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021, Sir David addressed Heads of State against the backdrop of stunning, cinematic pictures splashed on giant screens behind him. These were produced by Silverback Films, the production company that has collaborated with him on many of his most celebrated natural history documentaries.

Watch his full speech below:

He had a strong message for the COP26 summit on the state of the environment.

In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a terrible decline,” he said. “In yours, you could and should witness a wonderful recovery, ladies and gentlemen, delegates, excellencies. It’s why the world is looking to you and why you are here.

Much of his work has focused on the wonders of the natural world and how to protect them. His in-depth stories reflect an ever-changing Earth, from restoring biodiversity and preserving natural landscapes to mitigating climate change and understanding the impact of human activities on the environment.

Watch his journey from zoologist to climate activist:

In 2022, the UN Environment Programme (UNEPpresented Sir David with the Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his advocacy within the global environmental movement.

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“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,” UNEP Executive Director Ingrid Anderson said that the time.

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