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Mayor Belmonte Honored as UN Champion of the Earth for Environmental Leadership

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Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City has been recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as one of the UN Champions of the Earth for her remarkable efforts to combat plastic pollution and implement effective climate actions in the city.

The UNEP officially declared Belmonte and other distinguished individuals and institutions as laureates of this prestigious award on their official website. Belmonte's accomplishments have earned her the title of 2023 Champion of the Earth for Policy Leadership, one of the UN's highest environmental honors, commended by Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

Andersen stated, "For her efforts to transform Quezon City into an environmental trailblazer, Belmonte has been named the 2023 Champion of the Earth for Policy Leadership, one of the UN's highest environmental honors. Mayor Josefina Belmonte's passionate leadership and policy achievements exemplify how local authorities can solve global environmental problems. Cities can be the dynamic engines of change we need to overcome the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste - and mayors can help to lead that charge."


Belmonte holds the distinction of being the first elected Filipino official to be recognized as a Champion of the Earth, the UN's most esteemed environmental accolade. Past Filipino awardees include former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Elisea "Bebet" Gillera Gozun in 2007, human rights activist and environmentalist Joan Carling in 2018, and environmentalist Louise Mabulo in 2019.

In response, Mayor Belmonte expressed her gratitude and emphasized her commitment to developing more sustainable initiatives for the well-being of every QCitizen, especially the marginalized. "The people, especially the marginalized, are the city's top priority in crafting just and effective climate action. I am very thankful to the UNEP for recognizing our programs," Belmonte stated.

Belmonte has received the UN Champion of the Earth award in the Policy Leadership category, recognizing individuals and government organizations that lead their countries in pioneering environmental action. She joins the ranks of over 100 Champion of the Earth awardees since the award's inception in 2005.

"This is a recognition of our unwavering dedication to environmental conservation and sustainability, which has not only inspired our city but also set a remarkable example for the world. Quezon City will continue to lead the charge towards environmental protection through various means such as pushing for a circular economy, natural resources conservation, sustainable urban agriculture, green infrastructure, among others," Belmonte added.


Under Belmonte's leadership, the Quezon City Government has introduced a series of policies aimed at reducing plastic use and preventing pollution in the community. The city has enacted ordinances prohibiting single-use plastic bags and disposable cutlery, straws, and cups in restaurants for dine-in customers, as well as single-use containers and sachets in hotels.

In 2021, the city initiated the Trash to Cashback program, which incentivizes residents to exchange recovered plastic waste in the communities for environmental points (EP). These EPs can be used to purchase groceries and pay utility bills.

The Vote to Tote program retrieved thousands of tons of campaign tarpaulins to be upcycled into bags.

In June, the city government partnered with Greenpeace to launch the "Kuha sa Tingi" program, establishing community-based refill hubs in sari-sari stores to address plastic pollution. The program aims to provide residents with more affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to products that are typically sold in sachets, such as liquid detergent, fabric conditioner, and dishwashing liquid.

Since taking office as mayor in 2019, Belmonte declared a climate emergency in the city, leading to the creation of programs designed to protect the environment and allocating 11 to 13 percent of the city's annual budget to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

Mayor Belmonte has also been acknowledged by the National Resilience Council (NRC) as one of the country's resilience champions for her initiatives to promote community-based urban farming programs in response to food insecurity.

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