The United Nations Foundation announced today the recipients of its annual Global Leadership Awards, which recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals and organizations striving to further the work of the UN and advance its goal of a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world for everyone, everywhere. The 2021 awardees are: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Founder of Grameen Bank; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Human Rights Workers; The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Sustainable Energy for All (SEForAll).
The Awards were presented at We The Peoples, a signature event named for the inspiring opening words of the UN Charter. The event was held virtually this year in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so honored to recognize five truly remarkable leaders and organizations, and to have the opportunity to showcase their invaluable contributions to sustainable development and a healthier, fairer world,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation. “They are on the frontlines of our toughest global challenges, doing the hard and thankless work it takes to drive progress. And they do so with tremendous heart, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the values enshrined in the UN Charter.”
In addition to the exceptional individuals recognized with the Global Champion for Change award, each year the UN Foundation also seeks to honor the compassion, courage, and determination of UN frontline workers with the UN Heroes Award. And this year, a new SDG Vanguard Award has been introduced to recognize leaders whose work and impact reflects the urgency of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this final Decade of Action and the imperative to leave no one behind.
The 2021 honorees were recognized for wide-ranging work to drive progress across the SDGs, and live up to the promise of the UN Charter to save future generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in human rights and equal rights, ensure justice and international law, and promote social progress and freedom:
Champions for Global Change
● Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization
In recognition of pathbreaking leadership and determination to ensure a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world for everyone, everywhere, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was presented with the 2021 Global Champion for Change award by Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundations, UN Foundation Board member, and a former UN Deputy Secretary-General.
● Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Founder of Grameen Bank
In recognition of enlightened leadership and innovation to enhance human dignity, equity, and justice, Professor Muhammad Yunus was presented with the 2021 Global Champion for Change award by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed.
UN Heroes Award
● Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right and UN Human Rights Workers
In recognition of their courage, compassion, and determination to defend and protect the most vulnerable people everywhere, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Human Rights Workers were granted the 2021 UN Heroes Award. Presented on the eve of Human Rights Day, frontline human rights workers in the field accepted the Award on behalf of all their colleagues.
SDG Vanguard Awards
● The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
In recognition of steadfast commitment to scientific excellence, and extraordinary leadership in helping the world understand the facts, risks, and solutions to climate change, the IPCC received the inaugural SDG Vanguard Award, which was accepted by IPCC chair Hoesung Lee on behalf of the organization.
● Sustainable Energy for All (SEForAll)
In recognition of invaluable contributions and leadership in ensuring a clean energy transition that leaves no one behind and brings new opportunities for everyone, SEForAll was also granted the inaugural SDG Vanguard Award. Presented by Jay’Len Boone – the 2019-2020 U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, and a young climate activist and student who runs his own sustainability nonprofit in San Antonio, Texas – the award was accepted on behalf of SEForAll by its CEO Damilola Ogunbiyi.
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation is an independent charitable organization created to work closely with the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges, build initiatives across sectors to solve problems at scale, and drive global progress. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org