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Climate Champion Christiana Figueres to be awarded Gold Medal for Human Rights

The effects of climate change represent the single biggest threat to peace with justice.

The Sydney Peace Foundation has chosen to honor the leadership of Christiana Figueres with the presentation of the 2020 Gold Medal for Human Rights because of her collaboration and influencing skills, her persistence in ensuring a global agreement on limiting climate warming (the Paris Agreement), her relentless drive to ensure we don’t sleepwalk into an environmental nightmare by keeping our outrage alive, and importantly for the reminder that we must be optimistic and hopeful about the possibility of a much better world.

We must spark the imagination and the creativity that comes with understanding that we have this incredible agency to create something completely different. Whatever we hold as being possible, and whatever values and principles we live by, determine the actions that we take. Whatever we hold to be near and dear to us is what we’re willing to work toward. And so to shift from doom and gloom to a positive, optimistic, constructive attitude is very important because it is what gets us up in the morning and says “yes, we can do this, we’re going to work together on that”, rather than pulling the blanket over our head and saying “it’s all too difficult”. So that change in attitude inside ourselves is critical’.

Ms Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010-2016. During her tenure at the UNFCCC she brought together governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2C. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.

Ms. Figueres is a founding partner of Global Optimism Ltd., a purpose driven enterprise focused on social and environmental change. She is currently the Convener of Mission 2020, Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and EnergyWorld Bank Climate Leader, ACCIONA Board Member, WRI Board Member, Fellow of Conservation International, and Advisory Board member of Formula EUnilever and ENI.

Christiana Figueres has co-authored a book called The Future We Choose, Surviving the Climate Crisis and is in Australia in March to promote it.

The Foundation is delighted that Ms Figueres has agreed to accept the Gold Medal, which will be awarded during her upcoming visit to Sydney.