Jorge Varela was awarded the Goldman Prize in 1999 for his marine conservation work in Honduras, particularly his efforts to protect the ecological diversity of the Gulf of Fonseca from the unsustainable practices of industrial shrimp farming. Located on the Pacific coast, the Gulf of Fonseca is shared by Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
In 1988, Varela founded the Committee for the Defense and Development of Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca (CODDEFFAGOLF), as part of an emerging grassroots movement challenging the appropriation of natural resources in Central America. CODDEFFAGOLF has grown to become one of the most effective and well-respected NGOs in all of Central America.
Now, after nearly 25 years of service, Varela is retiring from CODDEFFAGOLF, though he will continue to be a powerful and inspirational advocate both in Honduras and internationally for the protection of wetlands and marine ecosystems.
In a message to friends and partners, Varela reflected on his retirement, “My time at CODDEFFAGOLF has come to an end, but my struggle continues as always in favor of artisanal fisheries, the environment in general and in particular the protection of coastal-oceanic biodiversity, mitigation of climate change and, within the context of sustainable development, the pursuit of fishing, mining, forestry, and other extractive industries that must be more respectful of human rights, the environment, and National sovereignty and food sovereignty. LONG LIVE CODDEFFAGOLF AND MAY GOD GUIDE ITS PATH!”