These green warriors just won the Green Nobel Prize!5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
This year has been a tough year for all of us, and also for our environment. Fortunately, there are people working hard to ensure that our home stays healthy, and safe! We owe a lot to these green warriors and the Goldman Environment Prize is just a way to say a big thank you to all of them.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is an annual prize awarded to environmental activists who are working at the grassroot level. One winner is selected from each of the world’s six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.
It is also called the Green Nobel Prize.
The award was created in 1989 by philanthropists, Richard N. Goldman and Rhoda N. Goldman. The award amount is $200,000. Psst...did you read Owliver’s notes on the Nobel Prize?
Last year’s winners included a lawyer who protected Liberia’s tropical forests, an activist who stopped the construction of an oil export terminal that could hurt the health of the local community, an indigenous leader who protected a sacred river in Chile among other trailblazers.
Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
The 1991 winner of the Goldman Environment Prize, Wangaari Maathai from Kenya, went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004!
Now, let’s meet the winners of 2020 and learn why we should be grateful for their contributions.
1. Coal’s Out: Chibeze Ezekiel, Ghana
You already know that coal is a big contributor to an increased carbon footprint. Ezekiel’s activism saved Ghana from a future of dependence on coal for energy!
It was because of Ezekiel’s four- year long grassroots campaign that the Ghanian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of the nation’s first coal power plant. This power plant would have been a 700-megawatt plant with an adjoining port to import coal.
2. Caught by the Straw: Kristal Ambrose, The Bahamas
Have you ever wondered what happens to the straw that you use in a separate to sip on Coke? It joins other draws in a landfill and clogs the earth for centuries. The use (and abuse) of plastic is one of the leading contributors to environmental degradation. Ambrose had little tolerance for this superfluous toxic. Through her efforts, she convinced the Government of Bahamas to ban the use of single-use plastic bags, straws, plastic cutlery and styrofoam containers. The ban was affected all over the nation in January 2020.
3. Bee-cause, life matters: Leydy Pech, Mexico
Pech is a beekeeper and an indigenous leader of the Mayan community who upheld the rights of her land and her people through her efforts to ban the planting of genetically modified soy bean in her area. She led a coalition of beekeepers, NGOs and other activists to pressure the Government into recognising this violation of rights and health of the people of the 7 states in Mexico where a company, Montaso, was allowed to run projects. The transgenic plants they were planting had an ingredient that is known to cause birth defects. It was also harming the honey produce. Her efforts led to the Governments banning the planting of this transgenic crop and revoking Montaso’s permit.
4. Money is green, too: Lucie Pinson, France
Do you remember Owliver’s story on how banks are unknowingly financing environmental degradation? Well, Pinson did something about that.
Her activism pressured the three largest banks in France into ceasing to finance coal companies and projects. Post this success, she pursued French insurance companies to do the same and lead runners complied with her suggestions.
5. Raining rainforests: Nemonte Nenquimo, Ecuador
We have already lost 17% of the Amazonian rainforest! We cannot afford to lose more.
Nemonte Nenquimo, an indegenous leader from the Waorani tribe, recognised this need.
The efforts put forth by Nenquimo led to a legal action preserving 500,000 acres of rainforests and Waorani land that could have been lost to oil extraction companies.
Her efforts have inspired other tribes who are protecting other parts of the rainforest from oil extraction.
6. A ‘peace’ of land: Paul Sein Twa, Myanmar
Paul Sein Twa belongs to the Karen community in Myanmar. In an attempt to preserve the environment and his community’s culture, he has set up a 1.35 million acre peace park in a major diversity zone, the The Salween River basin. At a point when the area is seeing increasing mining, mining, construction of dams etc, this park is a symbol of peace and conservation for the community, and for Myanmar.
If we look around, there is so much inspiration around us!
Only if we know where to look
For now, Owliver has you covered!
Think with Owliver:
Find out about other winners of the award from the last 5 years and collate the ones that inspired you the most, Let Owliver know in the comments below!
Sourced from Goldman Prize.