Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Goldman Prize Recipients Call on World Leaders to Take Risks at Rio+20

Goldman Environmental Prize

Recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists, are calling on world leaders to attend the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro and make real commitments to protect the environment. 

A total of 107 Goldman Prize winners, representing a broad spectrum of environmental activists—indigenous  leaders, attorneys, clergy, government officials, biologists, among others—from 68 countries have added their names to the statement. All have taken great personal risks to protect the environment, often facing arrest, torture, violent threats and assassination attempts along the way.

Signatories on the letter include:

  • Alexander Nikitin (Russia, 1997), a former naval captain who was jailed on treason charges for revealing the environmental threats behind Russia’s decommissioned nuclear submarines
  • Medha Patkar (India, 1992) who has been repeatedly beaten and arrested during protests against environmentally destructive redevelopment projects
  • Marina Silva (Brazil, 1996), former Brazilian environment minister who, despite the assassination of her close colleague Chico Mendes, led demonstrations with rubber tappers to protect tropical forests in the Amazon

The statement recognizes that much of the progress achieved in environmental protection since the original Earth Summit in 1992 came from the grassroots level, but that there is now a pressing need for leadership at the government level to rise to the challenge of climate change and sustainable development.

The full letter follows below:

An open letter from Goldman Environmental Prize winners to government leaders regarding the 2012 Earth Summit

We are the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize. We have been threatened. We have been tortured. We have been jailed. We have died from industrial toxins in our blood. We have been killed.

We are the recipients for the Goldman Environmental Prize. We are from 81 countries. We are grassroots activists. We are national ambassadors. We are indigenous people. We are environment ministers. We are women. We are men. We are elders. We are youth.

For over two decades the Goldman Environmental Prize has honored individuals for the great risks we take to protect the environment. Now we ask you to take a risk. Attend the Earth Summit in Rio and lead us into action.

The Earth Summit is a profound opportunity to move us forward in our global commitment to protect the planet, a commitment that was recognized 20 years ago at the historic Earth Summit of 1992. Since then the people of the planet have brought back endangered species, conserved fragile territories and developed alternatives to some of our most destructive practices. Again and again communities have won great battles.

But let’s face it, environmental leadership has come from civil society, people like us who put our lives on the line to protect the environment. Now, urgently, we request that governments take the lead in protecting the planet we all share. For future generations, we urge you to attend the Earth Summit and make real commitments toward sustainable development. We urge you to take a risk, as we have done, to defend Earth.

Jane Akre
United States, 2001

Rudolf Amenga-Etego
Ghana, 2004

Ikal Angelei
Kenya, 2012

Randall Arauz
Costa Rica, 2010

Prigi Arisandi
Indonesia, 2011

Kaisha Atakhanova
Kazakhstan, 2005

Oral Ataniyazova
Uzbekistan, 2000

Rashida Bee
India, 2004

Robert Brown
Australia, 1990

Caroline Cannon
United States, 2012

Giorgos Catsadorakis
Greece, 2001

Pisit Charnsnoh
Thailand, 2002

Choi Yul
South Korea, 1995

Matthew Coon Come
Canada, 1994

Willie Corduff
Ireland, 2007

Paul Cox
Western Samoa, 1997

Julio Cusurichi Palacios
Peru, 2007

Dai Qing
China, 1993

Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho
East Timor, 2004

Tuenjai Deetes
Thailand, 1994

Elias Diaz Peña
Paraguay, 2000

Feliciano dos Santos
Mozambique, 2008

Raoul du Toit
Zimbabwe, 2011

Wadja Egnankou
Ivory Coast, 1992

Corneille Ewango
Democratic Republic of Congo, 2005

Pablo Fajardo Mendoza
Ecuador, 2008

Tarcísio Feitosa da Silva
Brazil, 2006

Maria Elena Foronda Farro
Peru, 2003

Edwin Gariguez
Philippines, 2012

Sofía Gatica
Argentina, 2012

Lois Gibbs
United States, 1990

Janet Gibson
Belize, 1990

Anna Giordano
Italy, 1998

Małgorzata Górska
Poland, 2010

Maria Gunnoe
United States, 2009

Syeda Rizwana Hasan
Bangladesh, 2009

Lynn Henning
United States, 2010

Von Hernandez
Philippines, 2003

Noah Idechong
Palau, 1995

Laila Iskandar
Egypt, 1994

Yuyun Ismawati
Indonesia, 2009

Hugo Jabini
Suriname, 2009

Margaret Jacobsohn
Namibia, 1993

Sarah James
United States, 2002

Christine Jean
France, 1992

Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
Haiti, 2005

Hilton Kelley
United States, 2011

Eha Kern
Sweden, 1991

Manana Kochladze
Georgia, 2004

Michal Kravcik
Slovakia, 1999

Jean La Rose
Guyana, 2002

Jesús León Santos
Mexico, 2008

Dmitry Lisitsyn
Russia, 2011

Luis Macas
Ecuador, 1994

Thuli Makama
Swaziland, 2010

Myrsini Malakou
Greece, 2001

Atherton Martin
Dominica, 1998

Bernard Martin
Canada, 1999

Alexis Massol-González
Puerto Rico, 2002

M.C. Mehta
India, 1996

Olya Melen
Ukraine, 2006

Vera Mischenko
Russia, 2000

Emma Must
England, 1995

Ricardo Navarro
El Salvador, 1995

Harrison Ngau Laing
Malaysia, 1990

Alexander Nikitin
Russia, 1997

Evaristo Nugkuag
Peru, 1991

Odigha Odigha
Nigeria, 2003

Oscar Olivera
Bolivia, 2001

Marc Ona Essangui
Gabon, 2009

Juan Pablo Orrego
Chile, 1997

Garth Owen-Smith
Namibia, 1993

Medha Patkar
India, 1992

Alexander Peal
Liberia, 2000

Francisco Pineda
El Salvador, 2011

Nat Quansah
Madagascar, 2000

Sophia Rabliauskas
Canada, 2007

Rosa Hilda Ramos
Puerto Rico, 2008

Carlos Alberto Ricardo
Brazil, 1992

Marina Rikhvanova
Russia, 2008

Humberto Ríos Labrada
Cuba, 2010

Oscar Rivas
Paraguay, 2000

Stephanie Roth
Romania, 2005

Eugène Rutagarama
Rwanda, 2001

Ignace Schops
Belgium, 2008

Heffa Schuecking
Germany, 1994

Tuy Sereivathana
Cambodia, 2010

Champa Devi Shukla
India, 2004

Silas Siakor
Liberia, 2006

Marina Silva
Brazil, 1996

Andrew Simmons
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1994

Hammerskjoeld Simwinga
Zambia, 2007

John Sinclair
Australia, 1993

Ursula Sladek
Germany, 2011

Olga Speranskaya
Russia, 2009

José Andrés Tamayo Cortez
Honduras, 2005

Bruno Van Peteghem
New Caledonia, 2001

Jorge Varela Márquez
Honduras, 1999

János Vargha
Hungary, 1990

Orri Vigffúson
Iceland, 2007

Ka Hsaw Wa
Burma, 1999

Cath Wallace
New Zealand, 1991

Craig Williams
United States, 2006

Steve Wilson
United States, 2001

Luis Yanza
Ecuador, 2008

Yu Xiaogang
China, 2006

Sviatoslav Zabelin
Russia, 1993

Visit EcoWatch's BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.


EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less


A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less