The Goldman environmental prize winners 2020
Accessed from the world wide web at 17:00 hrs 30.11.20.
The Goldman environmental prize honours the achievements of grassroots activists in six continents, recognising their efforts to protect natural habitats and push for political change, often at great personal risk
Operating outside of the traditional power structures in the Bahamas, Ambrose used science, strategic advocacy and youth empowerment to get her country focused on plastics. This is the first time a Bahamian person has won the prize.
Leydy Pech from Mexico
Leydy Pech makes her living as a beekeeper as part of a collective of fellow Mayan women. She was born and raised in Hopelchén, where the practice of beekeeping goes back centuries. Pech has focused her beekeeping practice on a rare native bee species, Melipona beecheii. She is also a promoter of sustainable development for rural Mayan communities as a member of Koolel-Kab/Muuchkambal, a female-owned Mayan organic farming and agroforestry cooperative.
In June 2012, in response to the planting of genetically modified soya plants in the region, Pech brought beekeepers, NGOs and environmentalists together in a coalition known as Sin Transgénicos (Without GMOs). Pech led the group in bringing a case against the Mexican government. The Mexican supreme court ruled that the government had violated the Mayans’ constitutional rights and suspended the planting of GM soya. Because of the persistence of Pech and her coalition, Mexico’s Food and Agricultural Service revoked Monsanto’s permit to grow GM soya in seven states in September 2017.
Nenquimo’s legal victory sets a precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador, spurring others to follow the Waorani example. According to Mitch Anderson, the executive director of Amazon Frontlines: “This is a major precedent for indigenous rights across the Amazon. Guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ rights to decide over their future and to say no to destructive extractive projects is key to protecting the Amazon rainforest and halting climate change.” Nenquimo continues to fight for self-determination, rights, cultural and territorial preservation for the Waorani and other indigenous communities
Paul Sein Twa from Myanmar
During the Karen people’s new year celebrations, Paul Sein Twa (left) meets with leaders of the animist village Tha Thwee Der located in the Salween Peace Park in Myanmar. Seeking to preserve both the environment and Karen culture in Myanmar, in December 2018 Paul led his people in establishing a 550,000-hectare (1.35m-acre) peace park – a unique and collaborative community-based approach to conservation – in the Salween River basin.
The Salween River basin is a major biodiversity zone and home to the indigenous Karen people, who have long sought self-determination and cultural survival. The new park represents a major victory for peace and conservation in Myanmar.
Lucie Pinson from France
In 2017, Lucie Pinson’s activism successfully pressured France’s three largest banks to eliminate financing for new coal projects and coal companies. She then compelled French insurance companies to follow suit: between 2017 and 2019, Axa and Scor announced plans to end insurance coverage for coal projects. Here she is pictured standing in front of the Axa offices in Paris.
Pinson’s unique approach of forming relationships with key institutions while publicly holding them accountable successfully pressured France’s three largest banks and two largest insurance companies to stop financing or insuring coal-related projects. This is a key precedent for financial institutions around the world, which are now, because of Pinson’s work, engaged in a race to the top to be more responsible actors on climate impact. As a result of her work with French institutions, 22 global banks and 17 insurers now will not support coal development.
Chibeze Ezekiel from Ghana
Chibeze “Chi” Ezekiel, (second from left) is the national coordinator of 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (350 G-ROC), an affiliate of the environmental NGO 350.org. He also founded Strategic Youth Network for Development, harnessing the energy of youth to make environmental and social changes. For more than a decade, Ezekiel has organised Ghana’s youth around environmental sustainability and climate crisis issues. He is committed to empowering the next generation of environmentalists and giving them a voice, and follows the motto to “leave no one behind”.
As a direct result of Ezekiel’s four-year grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian minister for the environment cancelled the construction of a 700MW coal power plant, Ghana’s first, and an adjoining shipping port. Ezekiel’s activism stopped the coal industry from entering Ghana.