Champions of the Earth: The Sea Women of Melanesia

champions-of-the-earth:-the-sea-women-of-melanesia

The Sea Women of Melanesia, a group of divers who give women in the South Pacific region the skills to monitor the health of coral reefs, and create and restore marine protected areas, have been named Champions of the Earth, the UN’s highest environmental award, in the Inspiration and Action category.

To most people, fins, masks and neoprene wetsuits are recreational gear. But to the non-profit group, they are the tools of change. 


Clad in diving gear, the group’s 30-plus members chart the health of the fragile coral reefs that surround Melanesia.

The Sea Women work in what’s known as the Coral Triangle, which covers some 5.7 million square kilometres between the Great Barrier Reef and the island archipelagos of Melanesia and South East Asia.

Brimming with marine life, it is one of the world’s premier destinations for underwater tourism and home to a major fisheries industry. It is also exceptionally threatened by surging human populations and waste levels. 

The good news is that coral reefs are resilient and can recover if the marine environment is safeguarded. The Sea Women initiative, which has worked across the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea since 2018, supports marine protected areas in the two countries, to ensure there is abundant fish life for villagers to rely on in future.

Read the full story on the Sea Women’s work, here.

Champions of the Earth

  • The United Nations Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth and the Young Champions of the Earth recognize individuals, groups and organizations whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment. Presented annually, the Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental honour. 
  • The United Nations General Assembly has declared the years 2021 through 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is designed to prevent, halt, and reverse the loss and degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
  • It aims to revive billions of hectares, covering terrestrial as well as aquatic ecosystems.
  • Visit www.decadeonrestoration.org to learn more.

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