Meet 6 of the World's Top Environmental Heroes
The Goldman Environmental Foundation announced today the six winners of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmentalists. Every year since 1989, the foundation has chosen an environmental hero from each of the world's six inhabited continental regions.
Just as in past years, this year's winners persevered in the face of extreme adversity. Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Foundation
The prize "recognizes fearless grassroots activists working against all odds to protect the environment and their communities." The winners of the prize "often work in countries where violence and death threats against environmental defenders are on the rise, as documented in a report from Global Witness released today," says the Goldman Environmental Foundation.
The prize was established by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. The winners will be awarded the prize at an invitation-only ceremony tonight at 5:30 p.m. PDT at the San Francisco Opera House (this event will be live streamed online). A ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC will follow on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
This year's winners are:
Phyllis Omido, Kenya
After learning her own breast milk was making her baby sick—and realizing her child wasn’t the only one suffering from lead poisoning—Phyllis Omido galvanized the community in Mombasa to shut down the smelter that was exposing people to dangerous chemicals.
Myint Zaw, Myanmar
Facing heavy government scrutiny and restricted use of tools like email or social media, journalist and activist Myint Zaw launched a national movement, which included the use of art exhibitions, to successfully stop construction of the Myitsone Dam on Myanmar’s treasured Irrawaddy River. The dam would have displaced over 12,000 indigenous people and destroyed the watershed while exporting 90 percent of the energy generated to China.
Howard Wood, Scotland
After witnessing the severe degradation of the Isle of Arran’s marine environment from destructive commercial fishing practices, Howard Wood, a recreational diver spearheaded the establishment of Scotland’s first community-developed Marine Protected Area, leading to a dramatic recovery of biodiversity.
Jean Wiener, Haiti
In a country plagued by extreme poverty and political instability, Jean Wiener led community efforts to establish the nation’s first Marine Protected Areas by empowering Haitians to see the long-term value in sustainably managing fisheries and mangrove forests.
Marilyn Baptiste, Canada
A former chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, Marilyn Baptiste led her community in defeating not one but three attempts by a powerful mining company to construct British Columbia’s largest gold and copper mine, which would have destroyed Fish Lake—a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for the Xeni Gwet’in.
Berta Cáceres, Honduras
In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.