Carlo Petrini, the founder and president of the Slow Food, has been named one of this year's winners of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth award — the UN's flagship environment award that recognizes outstanding visionaries and leaders in the fields of policy, science and civil society action.
On September 18, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner officially awarded the prize to Petrini during a ceremony held in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Richard McCarty, President of Slow Food USA, represented Petrini who could not be there in person, receiving the trophy on his behalf.
Outlining their motivations for choosing Petrini, the UNEP said:
"With this Prize, we recognize your remarkable accomplishment as the founder of the Slow Food Movement covering a network of over 100,000 supporters in over 150 countries. With the critical issue of sustainable consumption and production in the context of global food security, your movement has become a formidable force that defends local food traditions, protects local biodiversity, and promotes small-scale quality products with an increasing focus on investments in the South. Through the Presidia projects and the Terra Madre network of food communities, you have also helped focus attention on the important role of indigenous peoples in upholding food traditions as well as being the custodians of irreplaceable inherited knowledge".
“I am touched and honored to receive the prestigious Champions of the Earth award,” said Carlo Petrini. “This award shows that the path taken by Slow Food over the past 27 years has profoundly changed the concept of gastronomy, by clearly linking it to environmental consciousness and protection. The entire organization works each day to ensure the world has a good, clean and fair food supply. I dedicate this precious recognition to all of these people.”
Petrini founded the Slow Food movement almost 30 years ago with the aim of reducing biodiversity loss, and reviving artisanal, resource-efficient food production techniques, which were at risk of dying out.
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity works in over 50 countries and involves over 10,000 small-scale food producers, promoting environmentally and culturally sustainable agriculture and fishing. It coordinates numerous projects in support of local communities, providing them with technical and financial assistance.
Petrini and his team also initiated the Ark of Taste project - a catalogue of well over 1000 forgotten or endangered food products from more than 75 countries.
Slow Food’s A Thousand Gardens in Africa project currently active in 25 African countries, to actively support African communities in fighting for freedom from hunger, the right to food and food security.
Slow Food’s Youth Network is actively involved in efforts to tackle food waste — including the popular 'Disco Soup' events. In France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA among other locations, 'Disco Soup' volunteers come together to cook free meals using good quality fruits, vegetables and other ingredients leftover from markets, businesses or households. DJs provide the background music for the chopping, peeling, and slicing, before the food is distributed locally.
Petrini joins an eclectic group of Champions of the Earth laureates, including Brazil’s Environment Minister, the developers of Google Earth, and a leading air pollution researcher. The award, which was launched in 2005, is the UN's flagship environmental award. To date, it has recognized 59 individuals and organizations for their leadership, vision, inspiration and action on the environment.
To learn more about the Champions of the Earth award and this year's awardees, go to: