Fight against plastic pollution, defend pangolins, avoid the construction of dams that destroy nature, prevent the entry into operation of new coal-burning plants, thwart the creation of a potentially polluting factory and facilitate the creation of Yaguas National Park , in the Peruvian Amazon.
These are the main merits of the six environmental defenders awarded this year with the Goldman Awards, one of the most prestigious distinctions in the world in the field of nature protection and the rights of indigenous communities.
The Goldman 2021 Environmental Awards, awarded by the foundation of the same name, were awarded this Tuesday, June 15, at a ceremony held in San Francisco (United States) with limited audiences due to the pandemic but broadcast internationally over the internet.
The event was hosted by Jane Fonda, guest musicians Lenny Kravitz, Baaba Maal and the Ndlovu Youth Choir, as well as special performances by Sigourney Weaver and Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions and honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists around the world and inspires us all to take action to protect our planet (see the winners in the previous edition in The vanguard).
The Goldman Prize was created in 1989 in San Francisco by philanthropists and civic leaders Rhoda and Richard Goldman, with the goal of helping “leave the world in a better condition than we found it.” In 32 years, the Award has had a remarkable impact and has distinguished the work of 206 people from 92 countries.
“When it comes to the environment, the global community of grassroots activists, leaders, thinkers and philanthropists is only growing and becoming more sophisticated, more united, more powerful,” said Susie Gelman, vice president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation.
Examples for all mankind
“These award winners have a lot to teach us about the way forward and how to balance with nature, which is key to our survival. These phenomenal environmental heroes remind us of what can be accomplished when we fight and refuse to accept powerlessness and environmental degradation. They have not been silenced, despite great risks and personal difficulties, and neither should we be silent. It is everyone’s responsibility ”.
Normally, winners receive the award in person at a ceremony at the San Francisco Opera in April, but this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the award is presented virtually and the ceremony is shared on social media on the 15th. of June. The event is broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
These are the 2021 Goldman award winners:
Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, Malaui
Concerned about the environmental damage caused by growing plastic pollution in Malawi, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto fought against the plastics industry and led a grassroots movement in support of a national ban on fine plastics, a type of single-use plastic. use. As a result of their committed campaign, in July 2019, the High Court of Malawi upheld a ban on the production, import, distribution and use of fine plastics. This is the first award for Malawi.
Thai Van Nguyen, Vietnam
Thai Van Nguyen founded Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which rescued 1,540 pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2020. Nguyen also established Vietnam’s first anti-poaching unit which, since 2018, has killed 9,701 animal traps, dismantled 775 illegal camps, 78 weapons confiscated and 558 people arrested for poaching, leading to a significant decrease in illegal activities in Pu Mat National Park. Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammals despite a ban on international trade. The great demand for their meat, scales and blood threatens the pangolins with extinction; all eight species of pangolin are on the IUCN Red List.
Maida Bilal, Bosnia y Herzegovina
Maida Bilal led a group of women from her village in a heavy equipment blockade that lasted 503 days, which resulted in the cancellation of permits for two proposed dams on the Kruščica River in December 2018. The Balkan Peninsula is home to the last rivers that they flow freely in Europe. However, a massive hydroelectric power boom in the region threatens to irreversibly damage thousands of miles of pristine rivers. This is the first award for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kimiko Hirata, Japan
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, Japan was forced to move away from nuclear power and instead embraced coal as a major energy source. Over the past few years, Kimiko Hirata’s grassroots campaign led to the cancellation of 13 coal-fired power plants (7GW or 7030MW) in Japan. These coal plants would have released more than 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their useful lives. The carbon footprint of Hirata’s activism is equivalent to taking 7.5 million cars off the road every year for 40 years.
Sharon Lavigne, United States
In September 2019, Sharon Lavigne, a special education teacher turned environmental justice advocate, successfully halted construction of a $ 1.25 billion plastics manufacturing plant along the Mississippi River in St. James. Parish, Louisiana. Lavigne mobilized grassroots opposition to the project, educated community members, and organized peaceful protests to defend her predominantly African-American community. The plant would have generated one million pounds of hazardous liquid waste annually, in a region already facing known carcinogens and toxic air pollution.
Liz Chicaje Churay, Peru
In January 2018, as a result of the efforts of Liz Chicaje Churay and her partners, the Peruvian government created the Yaguas National Park. The new park is comparable in size to Yellowstone National Park and protects more than two million acres of Amazon rainforest in the northeast region of Loreto. Its creation is a key step in conserving the country’s biodiversity, protecting thousands of unique and exotic wildlife species, conserving carbon-rich peatlands, and protecting indigenous peoples.
Celebrate grassroots environmental activists around the world—everyday heroes who do extraordinary things to protect our planet. Join @janefonda, @lennykravitz, @vanessa_vash, @baabamaal & @ChoirAfrica at the 2021 #GoldmanPrize Virtual Ceremony on June 15. https://t.co/WtVZeu9o3D pic.twitter.com/dPFMiQ1XEu
— Goldman Prize (@goldmanprize) May 4, 2021