•Nakate was already well-known in Uganda since 2019 due to her street protests “striking” for the climate, inspired by Greta.
•The Goalkeepers Awards are organised annually by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).
A prominent Ugandan climate activist who came to global visibility in 2020 when she was cropped out of a photo she appeared in alongside Greta Thunberg, has won a major award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Vanessa Nakate won the 2022 Campaign Award, which was presented by Malala Yousafzai during the Goalkeepers Awards ceremony on Tuesday in New York.
The Goalkeepers Awards are organised annually by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).
“Nakate is progressing SDG 4: Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 13: Climate Action,” the Foundation said.
Many Kenyans would know Nakate from the 2020 incident when an AP photographer cropped her from a picture of youth climate activists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The incident triggered widespread outrage, but Nakate said the incident showed how the voices and experiences of black, Brown and indigenous communities are routinely erased.
Nakate was already well-known in Uganda since 2019 due to her street protests “striking” for the climate, inspired by Greta.
She has persistently opposed the proposed Uganda-Tanzania oil pipeline, which will be majority owned by TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.
She noted burning the oil that the pipeline will transport could emit as much as 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, and displace 14,000 households.
On Tuesday, Vanessa won the Goalkeepers award for her work highlighting the disproportionate impacts of climate change, bringing much-needed attention to the inequalities that it exacerbates, especially for women and girls in Africa.
The 25-year-old is the founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement, which amplifies the voices of activists from Africa and across the world. She is also the founder of the Green Schools Project, which addresses energy poverty in rural schools in Uganda using economical and sustainable solutions to equip 24,000 schools with solar panels and eco stoves.
The Gates foundation recognized the work of three other leaders to advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their communities and around the world.
The winners were announced at the Goalkeepers Awards Ceremony on Tuesday night, which was attended by global leaders, influencers, and changemakers.
Other winners are Radhika Batra, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Every Infant Matters, which provides last-mile health solutions to disadvantaged children in India.
Batra founded Every Infant Matters when she was working as a resident doctor in a hospital in the slums of New Delhi. Since launching in 2017, the organization has saved 74,173 children from blindness, given prenatal vitamins to more than 40,000 disadvantaged women and provided education to prevent gender inequality and the stigma of TB, HIV/Aids, and blindness to more than 65,000 families.
“Batra is progressing SDG 3: Good Health & Well-Being and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities,” the Foundation said in a statement.
Another winner was Zahra Joya, a journalist from Afghanistan who founded and self-funded Rukhshana Media, an online news agency focused exclusively on covering issues that affect the women of Afghanistan—the first national news organization of its kind.
“Joya is progressing SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions,” the Foundation said.
The 2022 Global Goalkeeper Award, which was presented by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, recognized a leader who has driven progress on a global scale toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This year's award was presented to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, who has shown determination in leading both the EU and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from crisis management to long-term recovery efforts.
A champion of global health and equitable access, von der Leyen was instrumental in the creation of ACT-A, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, the foundation said.
She led the efforts of the European Union to support lower-income countries in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a commitment of €1 billion from the EU to boost manufacturing capacity in Africa in order to increase access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies.
In June 2020, at the Global Vaccine Summit, von der Leyen also announced a new European Commission's contribution of €300 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This is more than the sum of all previous EU contributions to Gavi.
Apart from Malala, other award presenters included Angelina Jolie, and entertainer and founder of Unicorn Island, Lilly Singh. The ceremony featured special performances by George the Poet and Grammy-nominated singer and performer, Somi.
"While the world is far from being on track to reach the Global Goals by 2030, there is still cause for optimism. We've seen how human ingenuity and innovation can lead to game-changing breakthroughs and progress toward our shared goals, and that's exactly what we see in this year's Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners," said Blessing Omakwu, head of Goalkeepers.
"Each show us how women are leading the way in coming up with the innovative solutions to move the numbers in the right direction, so that more people can lead healthy and productive lives."
The announcement of the Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners follows last week's release of the Gates Foundation's sixth annual Goalkeepers Report, "The Future of Progress," co-authored by foundation co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates.
The report underscores opportunities to accelerate progress toward ending poverty, fighting inequality, and reducing the impacts of climate change.