April 21, 2015
Eco News Network is pleased to recognize the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winners. The Prize honors fearless grassroots environmental activists from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. Established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman, the Goldman Environmental Prize has become the world’s largest award for grassroots environmentalists.
The Prize recognizes “Grassroots” leaders are people involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.
Prize activists often work in countries where violence and death threats against environmental defenders are commonplace, as documented in a report from Global Witness. The report features a case study about one of the 2015 Prize winners, Berta Cáceres, from Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental and human rights activists.
The Prize helps amplify the voices of these grassroots leaders by giving them an unrestricted cash award and brokering strategic meetings with funders, policymakers, NGO leaders, and journalists.
The six recipients of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize 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, Myint Zaw launched a national movement that successfully stopped construction of the Myitsone Dam on Myanmar’s treasured Irrawaddy River.
HOWARD WOOD, Scotland
Howard Wood spearheaded a campaign that established the first community-developed Marine Protected Area in Scotland, giving citizens a voice in a debate that has been dominated by the commercial fishing industry.
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 one of the largest proposed gold and copper mines in British Columbia that 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.
The Goldman Environmental Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. To date, the Prize has awarded USD $21,000,000 to 169 Prize winners, represented by 83 different countries.
To learn more visit goldmanprize.org.