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By Julius Luwemba
Known as the first ever wildlife veterinarian of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has been awarded among the top 2021 United Nations (UN) champions of the earth.
Dr. Kalema was recognised on Tuesday morning, by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in the science and innovation category, as a recognised world authority on primates and zoonotic diseases. As the Chief Executive Officer for Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), Dr. Kalema leads the implementation of three integrated strategic programs using the ‘One health’ approach.

According to Dr. Kalema’s research, ‘One health’ approach has a strong emphasis on biosurveillance and biosecurity of farm animals and wildlife, where measures taken often involve the culling of animals in order to prevent the spread of diseases to humans. “However, for better mitigation and prevention of epidemics, it is necessary to adopt a more than human approach which also emphasises the welfare of animals,” reads in part, her research paper.
The UN’s environmental award this year, also honours the Prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley in the policy leadership category for consistently raising the alarm about the vulnerability of small Island developing states due to the climate emergency. Under her leadership, Barbados has adopted ambitious renewable energy targets, committing to a fossil-fuel free electricity sector and transport by 2030.

Others who were recognised include, the Sea Women of Melanesia who were honoured in the inspiration and action category for having trained the local women to monitor and assess the impacts of widespread coral bleaching on some of the world’s most endangered reefs using marine science and technology.
Maria Kolesnikova from the republic of Kyrgyz, was honoured in the entrepreneurial vision category and also an environmental and youth activist.

UNEP’s Champions of the Earth honours individuals, groups and organisations whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment. Since its inception in 2005, the UN’s highest environmental honour has been awarded to some of the world’s most dynamic environmental leaders. So far, it has been awarded to 101 laureates, including 25 world leaders, 62 individuals and 14 organisations.

“This year’s champions are women who not only inspire us, but also remind us that we have in our hands, the solutions, knowledge and technology to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse,” said Inger Anderson, the UNEP executive director said.

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