Kiribati’s President Anote Tong was awarded the 2012 Hillary Laureate in a reception at the New Zealand High Commission in Tarawa, Kiribati on Tuesday night.
The Hillary Institute of International Leadership selected President Tong as its 4th annual Hillary Laureate awardee and the first for Leadership in “Climate Equity”, is the Institute’s leadership focus until 2015.
The Laureate is given to a leading social entrepreneur who also embodies the humanitarian commitment of the late Sir Edmund Hillary, a celebrated New Zealand public figure (he even appears on the New Zealand five-dollar note).
The Institute’s chairman, David Caygill, says no nation symbolises more dramatically than Kiribati both the impact of climate change and the inequity of that impact on different nations.
“President Tong has been tireless in his efforts to draw these concerns to the attention of the world. We hope this award assists his endeavours,” Caygill said.
Hillary Summit Governor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, added: “I am truly delighted at the selection of President Anote Tong. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this recognition and honour.”
A spokesperson for President Tong said His Excellency was honoured to have been selected and “extremely pleased to accept such honour on behalf of his people and his nation and others similarly affected by climate change”.
President Tong is the recipient of many awards and recognition for his leadership, the most recent being the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean.
Former Hillary Laureates are Jeremy Leggett (UK-2009), Peggy Liu (China-2010) and Aimee Christensen (USA-2011). Ms. Liu also won the Hillary Step prize earlier this year.