Who Won the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize?
Jan 05 2021
First launched in 1989, the Goldman Environmental Prize – sometimes known as ‘the Green Nobel Prize’ – recognises the achievements of grassroots activists in six continents. It is issued annually and comes with a windfall of $200,000 this year, creating a platform from which caring individuals can develop their own projects and bring environmental issues to a wider audience. The 2020 winners are as follows:
Kristal Ambrose, Bahamas
Kristal Ambrose is the first Bahamian to scoop the Goldman Prize. In 2018, she successfully used science, youth activism and strategic advocacy to convince her government to outlaw the sale and distribution of single-use plastic bags, straws and cutlery, as well as Styrofoam cups and containers.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem across the world, but especially for island communities like the Bahamas. After reaching the ocean, plastic can break down into even more dangerous microplastics. These can disrupt the natural rhythms of marine life, while the long-term effects of airborne exposure to microplastics are still not fully understood.
Leydy Pech, Mexico
Leydy Pech is a member of a female-run collective and cooperative focusing on Mayan methods of organic farming. She is also a lifelong beekeeper and concentrates on a particularly endangered species of the pollinator, dedicating time and effort in bringing it back to stability.
In 2012, she took a stand against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with regard to the cultivation of soya crops in her region. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled in her favour and in 2017, agricultural giants Monsanto were no longer allowed to grow GMO crops in seven states in the country.
Nemonte Nemquino, Ecuador
Nemonte Nemquino led a successful legal campaign against the oil industry in 2019, which culminated in protection for half a million acres of the Amazon Rainforest and the safeguarding of the territory belonging to her Waorani tribe.
As well as achieving victory in that isolated part of Amazonia, the Waorani case also inspired similar indigenous rights movements across Ecuador.
Paul Sein Twa, Myanmar
Paul Sein Twa is a regional leader of the Karen people in the Salween River Basin in Myanmar. He is dedicated to promoting the rights of his own people and safeguarding their culture, whilst simultaneously protecting the environment they live in.
In 2018, Paul scored a major victory when he was able to establish a “peace park” more than half a million acres in size. The venture is a unique method of combining shared cultural responsibility with conservation and was seen as a significant win for indigenous peoples in Myanmar.
Lucie Pinson, France
Between 2017 and 2019, Lucie Pinson successfully persuaded three of France’s largest banks and two of its biggest insurance companies to cut ties with the coal industry. As well as releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coal-fired power stations have also been linked to extreme rainfall events and other unpleasant environmental outcomes.
Pinson’s achievements have laid the groundwork for other financial institutions around the world to pay greater attention to their environmental commitments. To date, 22 banks and 17 insurers across the globe have dropped investment in coal due to Pinson’s efforts.
Chibeze Ezekiel, Ghana
Chibeze Ezekiel is the founder of the Strategic Youth Network for Development and the coordinator of 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon. He works alongside young people to promote awareness of climate change and other environmental issues and lobbies the government to be more responsible in its approach.
Ezekiel’s long-standing commitment to activism has produced tangible results. He has managed to prevent the coal industry from infiltrating the country, in particular discouraging the government from greenlighting plans to construct a 700MW power plant and adjoining shipping port in Ghana.
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