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Belmonte named 2023 Champion of the Earth

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has been named 2023 Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) for initiating innovative solutions that aim to protect the environment and prevent climate crisis.

Belmonte is among winners in the policy leadership category of the UNEP award, which is the UN’s highest environmental award for innovative solutions to beat plastic pollution.

The Champions of the Earth award honors individuals, groups and organizations whose actions have transformative impacts on the environment.

The 2023 laureates are implementing solutions and policies to eliminate plastic pollution.

Belmonte was cited for her efforts to transform Quezon City into an environmental trailblazer.

The UNEP said Belmonte is driving environmental and social actions through a raft of policies that aims to prevent or mitigate climate crisis and end plastic pollution as well as turn urban enclaves green.

Her initiatives include a ban on single-use plastics, trade-in program for plastic pollution, refill stations for everyday essentials and advocacy for strong global policymaking on plastics.

“Mayor Josefina Belmonte’s passionate leadership and policy achievements exemplify how local authorities can solve global environmental problems,” UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said.

“Cities can be dynamic engines of change we need to overcome the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste – and mayors can help to lead that change,” Andersen said.

For Belmonte, positive change means prioritizing actions on environment to create a liveable, green and sustainable city.

Under Belmonte’s leadership, Quezon City has focused on reducing plastic pollution and extending the life of plastic products already in circulation.

“Plastic pollution is a major problem in the Philippines, as in many parts of the world, because of the throwaway culture,” Belmonte said.

“Plastics clog our drainage systems and end up in the oceans. We know that plastic waste becomes microplastics that can be consumed in the food we eat, the air we breathe and even in the water we drink, which affects our health.”