News

Goldman Environmental Prizes Honor Diverse Group of Activists

Picture of winners of Goldman Prize
Picture of winners of Goldman Prize
Deborah Block

A Catholic priest, a tribal leader and a mother were among the winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.  The privately-sponsored award honors outstanding grassroots environmental activists from six different regions of the world. This year, the laureates are from the Philippines, Kenya, China, Russia, Argentina and the United States.

Kenyan Ikal Angelei is a hero to the people who live around Lake Turkana. She received a Goldman award for her efforts to halt construction of a dam on a river in neighboring Ethiopia that feeds the Kenyan lake.  Critics say the dam would harm the lake and prevent water access for people who live nearby.

“The biggest challenge was working with a community who are already having a lot of problems.  It’s hard when you’re talking about environmental rights,” Angelei said.

Angelei organized the Friends of Lake Turkana movement. Its campaign against the dam was successful, and the project has been halted - for now.

The Philippine island of Mindoro is home to tribes that live off of the land’s natural resources.  When a Norwegian company moved in to explore mining nickel, Edwin Gariguez said the mine's toxic waste would contaminate the island’s water and destroy the tropical forests. The Catholic priest began a movement to stop it.  

“Part of this mission, or calling, is really to be the voice of the voiceless.  So given the situation, we really need to take the challenge of leading the people against this destructive project,” Gariguez said.

His actions, including a hunger strike, spurred the government to revoke the company’s mining permit.

In China, Ma Jun is working with corporations to clean up their pollution.  The institute he founded has an online database and digital maps identifying factories that violate air and water regulations.

“And our idea is to give people access to this information on water quality, the amount of discharge, and also a whole list of companies that have been penalized for breaking the water standards,” Ma Jun said.

He hopes the public will use the information to try to stop violations.

Sofia Gatica is from a town in Argentina where the soybean fields are routinely sprayed with pesticides -- and the rate of cancer is high. Believing that exposure to pesticides led to her newborn's death, Gatica mobilized other mothers and obtained a ban on the use of agrochemicals near populated areas.

Evgenia Chirikova is demanding that a highway planned to cut through a protected forest in a Moscow suburb be re-routed. Although she and her followers have been arrested and detained, her campaign has gained widespread public support.

And Caroline Cannon, a community leader in Point Hope, Alaska, is fighting to keep Arctic waters safe from offshore oil and gas drilling.  She’s concerned an oil spill would endanger her coastal village and its abundant wildlife.

“There’s no technology on how to clean an oil spill out in the Arctic.  They have not done an actual cleanup in that kind of an environment,” Cannon said.

Cannon and the other Goldman Environmental Prize winners each received $150,000.  Cannon says some of the money will go to help her village.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs