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On May 14, 2019, more than 300 leaders of industry, government and the NGO community came together in Washington, DC, to celebrate achievements and lead the path to a post-carbon future at Earth Day Network’s Climate Leadership Gala.
For the first time, four leaders across the arts, journalism, social activism, and the private sector were recognized and honored for their creativity, passion, and dedication to informing, inspiring, and driving action to protect our planet.
With DC Councilmember Mary Cheh as emcee, Climate Leadership Gala guests experienced an evening of laughter and tears as we celebrated some of the exciting new initiatives and campaigns launched ahead of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, including Foodprints for the Future and #VoteEarth, while remembering a wonderful colleague and friend recently lost, Max Thabiso Edkins from the World Bank’s Connect4Climate.
The 2019 Business Climate Leadership Award was presented to Suzanne DiBianca, Executive Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer of Salesforce, one of the world’s leading companies on bold and ambitious climate solutions. As a cloud-based company, Salesforce recognizing their role in global emissions, and has embraced their responsibility to lead the way to a carbon-neutral pathway. The IT sector currently accounts for an estimated 7 percent of global energy consumption, which is what drove Salesforce to make the Net-Zero 2050 pledge, with a goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations by FY2022.
The recipient of our new Youth Climate Leadership Award, Alexandria Villaseñor, has been striking outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York since December 2018 to protest the state of our planet and what she sees as political inaction from leaders. Inspired by Fridays For Future founder and fellow student striker Greta Thunberg, Alexandria has braved the rain, wind, and the bitter New York winter to make her message known. For her relentless dedication to holding our leaders accountable, Alexandria has inspired millions around the world, making her an incredibly worthy recipient of Earth Day Network’s newest award.
In receiving her award, Alexandria discussed her newest initiative – the launch of her new nonprofit, Earth Uprising, which aims to support and hasten the youth climate movement. Learn more about Alexandria’s work and what inspired her to strike in our exclusive interview with her.
Ashley Bell is an actress, director, and filmmaker, most recently having directed, wrote and produced her first feature documentary, Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story, which brings beauty and urgency to the plight of the Asian Elephant. Under Ashley’s brave and bright direction, Love & Bananas shines a light on the cruel dynamic created when humans attempt to control and exploit these intelligent and charismatic creatures. The film aims to ignite a new way of thinking about this species, providing the viewer with the inspiration, education, and tools needed to prevent the extinction of Asian elephants.
For the beauty, urgency, and passion Ashley brings to the protection of our species, Earth Day Network was are thrilled to honor her with our Women and the Green Economy WAGE® Leadership Award.
Our fourth award was given to an industry leader for decades, a person who has used his platform to elevate the urgency of our climate crisis and bring climate action to the mainstream. NBC TODAY’s weatherman and co-host Al Roker travelled recently to the Arctic to turn his lens onto the disastrous real-life impacts of climate change that communities and ecosystems are already experiencing. From the northernmost part of the U.S., Al reported from the ‘ground zero for climate change,’ Utqiagvik, Alaska, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
Al’s message to the world? “It’s real – we are looking at extreme weather and extreme swings in weather…greater drought, rapidly intensifying hurricanes, and stronger snowstorms.” Al Roker has changed the way the world reports on climate change, and for this reason, Earth Day Network and Gala attendees honored him with the 2019 Climate Visionary Award.
Thank you to our partners for the evening — Toyota, the Foundation for Climate Restoration, Dos Gardenias, Positive NRG, FullCycle, Lawrence Benenson, American Plant, and all of our guests, speakers, and honorees. We are grateful for your continued support and for making Earth Day Network – and our 2018 Gala – a success.
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