The Edinburgh Medal is an award presented to women and men of science who have made a significant contribution to the understanding and wellbeing of humanity. Previous recipients include Sir David Attenborough.
Based in Delhi, Dr Narain is director general of the Centre for Science and Environment and editor of a fortnightly magazine Down To Earth. In 2016, Time Magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and she appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in his documentary on climate crisis, Before the Flood.
She said she was “honoured and humbled” to receive the medal. And she said: “The urgency of the climate change threat cannot be denied. Climate change is real; it is happening and it is making the poor in our world, even more marginalised and even more insecure. In an increasingly unequitable and climate-risked world poor people find that they cannot cope anymore. We do not have the luxury of time anymore. My generation has squandered the privilege away.
“So, we need to take transformational action; we need to do this in ways in which we will build the resilience of the poor and the economies of all; built not on discounting the cost of our consumption by discounting the cost of environmental protection. This then is the agenda for real change.
"The medal today signifies that we must stand behind bold action; inconvenient as it may be.”
Amanda Tyndall, creative and festival director at Edinburgh Science Festival, said: “That we share one world, with all of its problems and opportunities, has never been more apparent. Pandemic aside, perhaps nothing is more important than that we act with urgency, on a global level, to address the climate crisis and to do so in a way that is sustainable for all. It is for her invaluable work as both an environmentalist and activist that Sunita Narain is the very worthy recipient of this year's Edinburgh Medal.”
The award will be made at a ceremony streamed on YouTube hosted by Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross.