6th May 2016
Pope Francis wins UK Green Ribbon award
The Green Ribbon awards are amongst Britain’s most prestigious environmental awards. They are awarded by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the leading independent Chartered professional body for water and environment professionals, which promotes excellence within the sector. They have been presented since 1993, and aim to celebrate the greatest environmental achievements of UK and international politicians, business and charities. This year saw those who care for creation gathered at the Houses of Parliament on 3 May to celebrate the winners.
Not surprisingly, leading instigators of the Paris climate change deal featured prominently in the awards. Laurent Fabius, former French Foreign Minister, President of the Constitutional Council and President-designate of COP21, received the award for best environmental achievement internationally for his persistent, patient and ultimately successful steering of the complex process of negotiation of COP21 to its final conclusion. However, that achievement depended also on the mobilisation of voices across the world in favour of high ambition and political will. Essential to that was Pope Francis, through his timely encyclical letter Laudato Si’ , an urgent clarion call for sustainable development and care of our planet.
That is why the award for most inspirational figure internationally was given to Pope Francis. CIWEM’s Chief Executive, Terry Fuller, said at the award ceremony that: “These awards celebrate those who speak passionately and campaign tirelessly on the environment, demonstrate leadership and commitment and engender positive change in the way we as human beings interact with our fragile planet.” On that basis, it is difficult to argue with the decision to confer the award on Pope Francis. Building on the careful theological basis for environmental action built up by his predecessors, he has energised the global Holy See network – representing 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide – in favour of our planet, and our life upon it.
According to the award citation: “The judges praised the encyclical as a perfect example of how to write about climate justice, with juxtaposition to reduce you to tears. They believe that it was the most significant moment of 2015, utterly compelling and inspirational.”
I am delighted that Pope Francis’s powerful contribution to this global debate, an existential matter for us all, has been recognised in the UK in this way.