CANBERRA -- Australia's environment minister Greg Hunt, who has overseen the first increase in domestic emissions in a decade and approved dredging by a coal mine on the cusp of the Great Barrier Reef, has been named the world's best minister.
The honour was bestowed on Hunt by the World Government Summit in the United Arab Emirates overnight.
Hunt told Fairfax Media he was "genuinely humbled" by the prize, but noted "this is really an award for Australia".
The summit describes itself as "the primary global forum dedicated to shaping the future of government worldwide."
"The aim of this award is to recognise innovation in global government work and highlight ministerial initiatives that have resulted in positive changes in their communities," said Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE's Minister of Cabinet Affairs and chairman of the organising committee
“Our world today needs ministers to serve as role models of thought and action, which bring about progress and welfare and improve general societal well-being.”
Hunt has been praised in global environmental circles for his work at the Paris climate summit in helping broker a breakthrough on years-long stalemate points.
Hunt travelled to the UAE to accept the award in person, and in an address he cited policies including support for solar power and water quality, as well as floating the concept of a global rainforest recovery program.
. @GregHuntMP "The Environment is our land & our identity. I applaud the UAE's vision to be one of the most innovative nations in the world"— World Gov Summit (@WorldGovSummit) February 9, 2016
Hunt has been environment minister since September 2013. The Member for Flinders has overseen the dismantling of the carbon tax and, more recently, approval of a controversial coal terminal at Abbot Point in north Queensland.
A report by RepuTex also showed that in 2014-15, Hunt oversaw the first rise in Australia's annual carbon emissions since 2006-07.