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1993

Sviatoslav Zabelin

Last Name: 
Zabelin

Co-founded the Socio-Ecological Union, a coalition of more than 200 organizations throughout the former Soviet Union working to address Russia’s immense environmental problems. Read more »

First Name: 
Sviatoslav
Country: 
Russia
Bio: 

A modest man who inspires trust, Svet Zabelin has played a leading role in raising public awareness of environmental problems in the former Soviet Union and in building a grassroots environmental movement that helped spark the country's democratic transformation. The relentless drive to industrialize the country during the Soviet era resulted in widespread environmental degradation, a problem that continues as the Russian Federation further opens its borders to multi-national corporations to capitalize on its abundant natural resources. In 1970, Zabelin was the coordinator of the Student Nature-Guards Movement, a unique independent, non-governmental movement in the USSR. In 1987, during the period of glasnost, Zabelin and friends from the Nature-Guards Movement spearheaded the creation of the Socio-Ecological Union (SEU), a non-governmental environmental coalition that has grown to include nearly 200 smaller organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States and the West. The projects of SEU are diverse and include assisting residents of areas contaminated with radiation, establishing a network of environmental monitoring stations, studying environmental illnesses and protecting threatened species. As director of the SEU's Coordination and Information Center from 1987 to 1992, Zabelin created a computer network that fostered cooperation among environmentalists scattered across the former Soviet Union, thereby forming a cohesive environmental movement. From 1991 to 1993 Zabelin also worked as special assistant to Alexei Yablokov, Russian President Boris Yeltsin's Counsellor on Ecology and Health, where he drafted environmental protection laws. He was instrumental in establishing NGO rights to monitor the condition of natural resources in Russia and to legally challenge those who violate environmental laws. In 1993 Zabelin left the government in order to again work with SEU full-time. In 1995 Zabelin drafted a document on sustainable development in Russia, which was discussed as an alternative to official policies.

Quote: 

"We are at the beginning of that path that can lead humankind to humanity."

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JoAnn Tall

Last Name: 
Tall

A Lakota, she helped stop proposed nuclear weapons testing in North Dakota’s Black Hills and also worked to prevent hazardous landfills from being located in the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. Read more »

First Name: 
JoAnn
Country: 
United States
Bio: 

JoAnn Tall belongs to the Oglala Lakota tribe in the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, located in one of the nation's poorest counties. As a mother of eight children who suffers from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, Tall has overcome severe obstacles to improve the conditions of the Lakota people and preserve their sacred land.

Guided by her prophetic dreams and spiritual experiences, Tall began a history of environmental activism through raising awareness about the health hazards of local uranium mining and the dangers inherent in a proposed Honeywell nuclear weapons testing site. Using her Indian-owned and operated radio station, she informed the Lakota people of the impending desecration of their sacred Black Hills. After she erected a resistance camp of tipis and a sweat lodge at the proposed testing site, Honeywell abandoned its plans.

Tall later co-founded the Native Resource Coalition, dedicated to research and education for the Lakota people on issues of land, health and the environment. When the AMCOR Company appoached the tribal council about locating a 5,000 acre landfill and incinerator on the reservation, Tall vehemently opposed and began to speak out against the project. When Tall learned that tribes across the country had been similarly approached, she found further resolve to halt the project. Tall's organizing efforts finally paid off. Pressure from tribal members ultimately convinced the tribal council to reject AMCOR's proposal - although the council had initially disapproved of Tall's objections. Later, a related company approached the neighboring Rosebud Reservation with the same offer. Tall helped the people of Rosebud halt that project as well. These victories have influenced other reservations across the country to fight against proposed waste dumps.

Tall has served on the board of directors of the Seventh Generation Fund. She has increasingly taken on the role of an elder, acting as an advisor and educator. She focuses on providing spiritual guidance to youth while continuing to inspire both native and non-native people around the world to protect the environment.

Quote: 

"The whole focus that I've always worked on as a grassroots environmentalist is that you do not tear up Mother Earth."

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John Sinclair

Last Name: 
Sinclair

Successfully stopped sand mining and logging of the unique rainforest on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, off the coast of Queensland. Read more »

First Name: 
John
Country: 
Australia
Bio: 

For over 30 years, John Sinclair led a fierce battle to protect Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Against strong local opposition, he succeeded in stopping sand mining on the island and convinced the government to halt logging of the island's unique rainforest. In 1992, 25 years after the campaign began, Fraser Island was added to the World Heritage List of outstanding natural wonders of the world.

Concerned about the increase of sand mining on the island by multinational corporations, Sinclair formed the Fraser Island Defenders Organization (FIDO) in 1971 to alert Australians to the island's unusual qualities and to generate public opposition to sand mining. As a result, Sinclair suffered terror and abuse from the local community who feared the loss of jobs. Undaunted, he successfully battled the Queensland government in a number of court cases, which helped define public interest law in Australia, but led Sinclair to bankruptcy. He lost his job and was forced to leave his hometown. Even though he no longer lived in the area, Sinclair organized a successful campaign to stop logging on Fraser Island.

Sinclair continued his work to ensure that tourism development was controlled and that the island's resources were properly managed. He produced FIDO's newsletter, MOONBI, and was involved in other publishing projects to improve the island's management. He has also served as a member of a government committee overseeing the management of the Fraser Island.

Sinclair worked on other conservation efforts as well. He assisted the voluntary conservation movement of South Africa in preventing sand mining in the dune systems of Zululand's Greater St. Lucia region. He focused on ways to enhance the role and effectiveness of volunteers in environmental protection and worked to improve the protection given to all World Heritage Sites.

Organizing eco-tours from Sydney, Sinclair continued to work to enhance the Australian network of conservation volunteers. In 1998, he organized a canoe trip down Australia's greatest remaining wild river, the Fitzroy, which was instrumental in a decision not to dam the waterway.

For more information visit the John Sinclair Trust for Conservation.

Quote: 

"The health and survival of future generations depends on more environmental advocates volunteering to pursue critical issues now."

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Dai Qing

Last Name: 
Qing

A journalist, she took great personal risk to publish a collection of essays by Chinese intellectuals critical of the damming of the Yangtze, a project that would create the world’s largest hydroelectric dam.

Daughter of a revolutionary martyr, former missile technician and one-time intelligence agent, Dai Qing is a fearless journalist who has been outspoken in her opposition to the Chinese government's plans for the Three Gorges dam. Read more »

First Name: 
Dai
Country: 
China
Bio: 

Daughter of a revolutionary martyr, former missile technician and one time intelligence agent, Dai Qing is a fearless journalist who has been outspoken in her opposition to the Chinese government's plans for the Three Gorges dam. If completed on the Yangtze River according to the current plan, Three Gorges will be the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The 175 meter high dam will create a narrow lake 600 kilometers long, flood 800 villages, force the resettlement of over 1.8 million people and submerge 100,000 hectares of China's most fertile farmland. It will also inundate a magnificent stretch of canyons, considered to be one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, and further endanger highly threatened species including the giant panda, the river dolphin and the clouded leopard. After challenging the Three Gorges project in China's press, Dai Qing compiled Yangtze! Yangtze!, a collection of essays, interviews and petitions by prominent Chinese scholars critical of the dam. In 1989, at great risk, she was able to get the book published. Yangtze! Yangtze! inspired dam opposition which played a critical role in pressuring the Chinese government to postpone the project. Then, in the wake of the military crackdown in Beijing in June 1989, Yangtze! Yangtze! was officially banned on grounds that it had "abetted the turmoil" of the pro-democracy movement. Dai Qing was banned from publishing in China and was imprisoned for 10 months. In 1993 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation withdrew financial and technical support for the project. Meanwhile, the World Bank, under pressure from environmentalists, decided not to loan the Chinese government money for the massive dam, which could cost up to $77 billion. Despite national and international opposition to the mega-project and a decided lack of international investors, the Chinese government began work on the Three Gorges Dam in 1994. Construction is expected to take 20 years. Believing they still have a chance to stop construction, Dai Qing and international environmental groups continue to challenge the gargantuan dam.

Quote: 

"The highest expression of dignity can be summed up in the single word 'No!' - being able to say 'No!' when you disagree."

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