Global Climate Leader, Christiana Figueres, awarded RSA’s prestigious Albert Medal - RSA

Global Climate Leader, Christiana Figueres, awarded RSA’s prestigious Albert Medal

Press release

  • Environment

Yesterday the RSA presented Christiana Figueres, renowned global climate diplomat and former UN Climate Chief, with its prestigious Albert Medal in recognition of the leadership and creativity she has shown on climate action.

At a special ceremony hosted at the RSA’s iconic home in the heart of London, Christiana was presented with her award by RSA Chief Executive, Andy Haldane in front of an audience of RSA Fellows and other invited guests.

Now in its 160th year, the Albert Medal has recognised exceptional creativity and innovation since 1864, with winners included Marie Curie in 1910, Stephen Hawking in 1999 and, more recently, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert in 2021 for her work on the Oxford Covid vaccine.

This year's Albert Medal was awarded on the theme of 'Courage' and recognises Christiana's own courageous leadership journey- through her distinguished diplomatic career, her role leading the Paris Agreement as UN climate chief, and her ongoing work to secure the future of climate leadership.

Nominations for the Albert Medal are made by a diverse group of RSA fellows and partners, and the review panel unanimously recommended Christiana Figueres for the medal this year.

Christiana led the process to bring together national and subnational governments, corporations, activists, financial institutions, communities of faith, think tanks, technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the unprecedented climate change agreement and set the world on the path towards net zero.

In her award address, Christiana spoke about her ongoing commitment to the acceleration of the global response to climate change, and called for the repair, protection and regeneration of our web of life for future generations.

In her address at the Ceremony, Christiana Figueres said:

“What we choose today will become the dominant reality in the world of imminent tipping points; tipping points in the earth's system, but also tipping points in society. We humans will tip the balance no matter what, so we might as well tip thoughtfully".

Later, she also said:

"I really rejoice in the fact that the vision of the RSA is a world where everyone can fulfil their potential and contribute to a more resilient, rebalanced and regenerative future. That cannot be done without courage".

Andy Haldane, Chief Executive of the RSA, said:

“It is an honour to recognise Christiana’s outstanding and courageous leadership on the world stage and contribution to climate action. Very much in line with the RSA’s own Design for Life mission- to enable people, places and the planet to flourish in harmony- Christiana has led the way in bringing together governments, organisations and individuals to contribute to more resilient, rebalanced and regenerative future for us all. All of us here at the RSA are delighted to honour her in this way, and to welcome her as a lifelong Fellow of the RSA”.

For more information about the RSA, its Design for Life mission, and the history of the Albert Medal, please visit our website.


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About the RSA

We are the RSA. The royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce. Where world-leading ideas are turned into world-changing actions. We’re committed to a world where everyone can fulfil their potential and contribute to more resilient, rebalanced, and regenerative futures.

The RSA has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years. Our research and innovation work has changed the hearts and minds of generations of people. Central to all our work are our mission-aligned Fellows; a global network of innovators and changemakers who work collectively to enable people, places and the planet to flourish in harmony.

We invite you to be part of this change. Join our community. Together, we’ll unite people and ideas in collective action to unlock opportunities to regenerate our world.

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Christiana Figueres, founding partner, Global Optimism

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016.

During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C, in order to protect the most vulnerable. For this achievement, Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy and has received multiple awards, including the 2023 RSA Albert Medal.

Since then, Ms. Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today, she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast Outrage + Optimism and is the co-author of “The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimists' Guide to the Climate Crisis.

Christiana Figueres on X: @CFigueres

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