The Goldman Prize is awarded annually to six individuals from around the world who have dedicated their lives, sometimes at great risk, to protecting the world's natural resources. Paul Sisco reports.
The Goldman Prize is often called the Nobel Prize for environmental heroism. Every year since 1990 someone from Africa, Asia, Europe, islands and island nations, North America, and South and Central America are singled out for their environmental activism. Winners receive $125,000 dollars, the largest award of its kind.
Founder Richard Goldman said, "The Goldman Prize ends up in the hands of people who are grass roots environmentalists protecting the areas in which they live, and given an opportunity to get more recognition throughout the world."
Many of this year’s winners have risked their lives for their cause. Willie Corduff of Mayo County in Ireland, spent 94 days in jail protesting – and successfully halting – the construction of a Shell Oil pipeline across the biologically sensitive Irish coast.
In Zambia, in Africa, Hammerskjoeld Simwinga has turned elephant poachers into organized environmentalists and sustainable farmers.
And in the Amazon, Julio Cusurichi continues battling for the rain forest and the rights of its indigenous people to live there as they have for generations.
Prize winners for 2007 are being honored in Washington this week as they have been since the first Goldman environment awards were presented in 1990.
Senator Barbara Boxer of California told them, "I remember the very year it started, and thinking how wonderful, and I guess the point I want to make between that day and this day is that the environment is back as an issue in America. And the reason its back is because of people like you, who understand the fact that human rights include the dignity of living in a safe environment."
With her Goldman Prize, Canadian Sophia Rabliauskas plans to continue to fight for the protection of old growth forests and native species of wildlife in Manitoba.
Outdoorsman Orri Vigfusson, from Iceland, is a new kind of environmentalist. Using his negotiating skills, he has started a multinational campaign to buy the fishing rights of commercial fishers who are blamed for the decline in salmon populations.
And once a poor herdsman in Mongolia, Tsetsegee Munkhbayar shut down powerful illegal mining interests in his country by educating local citizens on the importance of environmental protection, helping them to unite and shape government policy.
His message is the message of all the recipients -- the health of planet Earth is everyone's responsibility.