KOCHI: At a gala ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly, the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) was presented with the Champions of the Earth award, the highest environmental prize of the UN.
CIAL managing director V J Kurian, who pioneered the idea of making it the first fully solar energy-powered airport in the world, received the coveted prize from Sathyapal Thripati, assistant secretary of UN Environment Programme (UNEP), on Wednesday evening Indian time. The award was announced in July.
The CIAL also took home the award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category for its “leadership in the use of sustainable energy”.
“Cochin (Airport) is showing the world that our ever-expanding network of global movement doesn’t have to harm the environment.
“As the pace of society continues to increase, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is proof positive that green business is good business,” said the UNEP statement.
In his acceptance speech, Kurian said at a time when Kerala is slowly rebuilding itself, CIAL pledges to fight climate change and global warming and to make this a better world.
“I wish to dedicate this award to the people of Kerala, who recently suffered the worst monsoon flooding since 1924, and to our Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who led us during the difficult days, with his tenacity, fortitude and determination,” he said. “We will continue to take up new challenges, to stay driven by new ideas and to innovate for a better future.”
Erik Solheim, UNEP executive director, said in his address that in a world of uncertainty, it was certain we will not solve the extraordinary challenges our world faces today without extraordinary talent, new thinking and bold ideas.
“The Champions of the Earth award and Young Champions of the Earth prize recognise those not afraid to chart unknown waters or be the voice of the voiceless. These people are changing our world today for a better tomorrow,” he said.
Jose Thomas, Sathesh Pai, P S Jayan, were also present at the function.