Submitted by kesarowiwa95 on Tue, 2006-03-07 11:03
Led a peaceful movement for the environmental and human rights of Nigeria’s Ogoni people whose oil-rich land has been exploited by multinational oil companies. The Nigerian government executed Saro-Wiwa in 1995. Read more »
Ken Saro-Wiwa (d. 1995), a well known Nigerian author and television producer, was president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), an organization set up to defend the environmental and human rights of the Ogoni people who live in the Niger Delta. Since Royal Dutch Shell struck oil on Ogoni lands in 1958, an estimated $30 billion worth of oil has been extracted. In return the Ogoni, a group of 550,000 farmers and fishermen inhabiting this coastal land, have received little except a ravaged environment. Once fertile farmland has been laid waste by oil spills and acid rain. Uncontrolled oil spills dotted the landscape with puddles of ooze the size of football fields. Virtually all fish and wildlife have vanished. Meanwhile, out of Shell's Nigerian workforce of 5,000, less than 100 are Ogoni. In January 1993 Saro-Wiwa gathered 300,000 Ogoni to march peacefully to demand a share in oil revenues and some form of political autonomy. MOSOP also asked the oil companies to begin environmental remediation and pay compensation for past damage. In May 1994 Saro-Wiwa, who had been briefly imprisoned several times before, was abducted from his home and jailed along with other MOSOP leaders in connection with the murder of four Ogoni leaders. Amnesty International adopted Saro-Wiwa, a staunch advocate of non-violence, as a prisoner of conscience. Meanwhile, the Nigerian military took control of Ogoniland subjecting people to mass arrest, rape, execution and the burning and looting of their villages. In October 1995 a military tribunal tried and convicted Saro-Wiwa of murder. Governments and citizens' organizations worldwide condemned the trial as fraudulent, and urged the Nigerian dictator to spare Saro-Wiwa's life. They also called upon Shell to intervene. On November 10, 1995 Saro-Wiwa and his eight co-defendants were hanged. The only crime he and his colleagues had committed was to demand sound environmental practices and to ask for compensation for the devastation of Ogoni territories. The Ogoni cause has since been taken up by other Ogoni living in exile including Ken's son, Ken Wiwa and his younger brother, Owens, a medical doctor. Despite the sudden death of Nigerian Dictator General Sani Abacha in 1998, the Ogoni region remains heavily militarized and the government has yet to agree to allow an independent environmental assessment to be conducted to determine the total extent of Shell's pollution in the Niger Delta. Ken Saro Wiwa's life has provided a legacy of great inspiration for human rights and environmental activists around the world. Visit MOSOP Canada's website.
Founder of the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology, he worked to restore El Salvador’s environment, decimated by 12 years of civil war.
Ricardo Navarro founded the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) to address his country's critical environmental and social needs. El Salvador's protracted civil war hurt the environment to such an extent that it was once considered to be one of the most degraded countries in the western hemisphere. Read more »
Ricardo Navarro founded the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) to address his country's critical environmental and social needs. El Salvador's protracted civil war hurt the environment to such an extent that it was once considered to be one of the most degraded countries in the western hemisphere.
As president of CESTA - El Salvador's largest environmental NGO - Navarro, an engineer by training, worked in partnership with urban and rural communities to provide technical assistance for an array of sustainable technologies.
One of CESTA's programs trains people to build and repair bicycles, "bici-carts" and wheelchairs. Besides generating skilled labor and jobs, the "Ecobici" project raises consciousness about the environmental benefits of cycling. CESTA's community projects construct dry composting latrines to stop contamination of precious water supplies, promote organic agriculture to cut down on the need for costly chemicals and encourage the use of efficient stoves to lessen dependence on scarce fuel wood. A third branch of CESTA scrutinizes legislation for its environmental implications.
In Guazapa, a region that was bombed heavily with napalm, CESTA worked closely with young people to create a living monument to peace. The goal was to rejuvenate the barren environment by planting a tree for every person who died during the war. Over 65,000 fruit bearing and medicinal trees have been planted in this "Forest of Reconciliation."
Navarro has been outspoken on a number of national issues including waste trafficking. On national television in 1993, he successfully condemned a proposal to transfer old tires from New Orleans to El Salvador where they were to be burned. Navarro also led an initiative to save El Espino, one of the few forested areas left near the capital, San Salvador, and an important source of the city's water. He asked the legislative assembly to declare the forest, which local politicians wanted to turn into a housing development, a protected zone. Development in El Espino forest was put on hold. Navarro received numerous death threats because of his work.
"The struggle for the environment is the struggle for our own survival; we cannot afford not to get involved."
Her campaign against a nationwide road-building program resulted in the cancellation of 60 road projects and the development of new transportation policies.Read more »
In 1989, the British Department of Transport announced a £23 billion national road building program, which was boasted as the largest of its kind since the Roman Empire. The plan would destroy hundreds of officially designated protected sites for wildlife, history and landscape and devastate local communities. On her way to Winchester every day to work as a children's librarian, Emma Must passed Twyford Down, a hillside that was known in England for its rare natural habitats and archeological significance. Despite 20 years of overwhelming local opposition, highway construction through the down began in 1992. Unable to tolerate this destruction, Must joined a small group of youths camped on the hill to protect it. The group was forcibly removed from the site and it seemed that the battle was lost. However, new inspiration came from Must, who began to mobilize large protests. By using tactics that included chaining herself to a bulldozer, she brought national attention to the issue. In the coming months, more than 50 peaceful demonstrations took place. Must was later imprisoned for defying a High Court injunction by participating in a demonstration. She then joined the organization Alarm UK!, an umbrella group for the nationwide road building protest, and continued to work with local anti-road groups by promoting direct action, building coalitions and pressing for policy reforms. Though ultimately Twyford Down was not saved, it drew the country's attention to the nation's massive road building program and symbolized a turning point in the campaign to stop it. The movement grew and crossed all social and political boundaries. In response to the public outcry, the British Department of Transport completely reversed its road building policies in 1994. In the summer of 1998, the new British government published the first "White Paper" on the subject in 20 years, laying out proposals for legislation on sustainable transport. The National Roads Programme has been cut to just 37 schemes, out of almost 600 in 1989, a true victory for the anti-roads movement. Must, through her work with Transport 2000, developed a network of regional grassroots campaigners to help insure that the alternatives are carried out on the local level. Meanwhile, Must has been spreading the word to campaigners in Central and Eastern Europe, helping to set up an East/West network tackling the Trans-European Road Network and passing along lessons learned in the United Kingdom regarding halting large-scale road-building. Must is currently working with the World Development Movement in London, calling multinational corporations into account for their overseas activities.
"People power is forcing a transportation revolution."
Submitted by noidechong95 on Mon, 2006-03-06 14:53
Protected Palau’s rich coral reefs and fisheries from development by creating an innovative model that integrates modern and traditional practices. Read more »
Palau is an archipelago of 340 islands located in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles east of the Philippines. Approximately 700 species of coral and over 1,400 species of fish are found in Palau's waters, making it one of the most biologically rich marine areas on earth. As a result, the region is a major global fishery and has been ranked number one among the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World. Palau's growing economy depends on the riches that the land and the sea provide. However, increasing development pressures have threatened these important resources.
As the former chief of Palau's Division of Marine Resources, Noah Idechong created a model for marine conservation in the region that combined traditional and modern knowledge. He convinced the chiefs of Palau to reinstate age old conservation traditions known as bul, which limited fishing in the spawning channels within the villages' reefs. This was considered to be one of the most important conservation measures in the Pacific in recent history. Idechong oversaw the installation of mooring buoys which saved coral from destruction caused by boats at Palau's scuba-diving sites. He was also instrumental in securing the passage of a nationwide sustainable marine resources bill. The legislation marked the first time in Palau's 2,000 year history that the government had attempted to place restrictions on fishermen.
Idechong resigned from his government post in 1994 to become the director of the Palau Conservation Society, Palau's only environmental non-governmental organization. The organization's mission is to preserve the region's unique natural environment and build local community support and public awareness. PCS is also a proponent of sustainable economic development in the region.
In 1997, Idechong received a Pew Fellowship to pursue the application of traditional management practices in the waters of the far north of Palau.
"I've cheered and I've cried as I watch my beloved country during its long struggle to find its rightful place among the nations of the world."
Leader of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, he popularized environmental issues and mobilized a strong anti-nuclear movement amidst powerful development pressure and at considerable personal risk. Read more »
Yul Choi was a student leader in college and was later imprisoned for his activism during the late 1970s. During the six years he spent in prison he read extensively about environmental issues. After he was released, he established the first environmental non-governmental organization in South Korea, the Korean Research Institute of Environmental Problems, in response to widespread pollution caused by the nation's rapid industrialization. Choi inspired people to demand their rights to a healthy environment. His movement was often opposed by the government. He succeeded in evacuating communities affected by a toxic waste related illness in the coastal city of Onsan. Environmental issues became critical strongholds in the democracy movement that paved the way for civilian government. In 1988 Choi became the first chairman of the Korean Anti-Pollution Movement (KAPMA). Since South Korea is highly dependent upon nuclear power, he resolved to inform the Korean public about the problems with nuclear waste disposal. He was put under house arrest for these activities, but anti-nuclear sentiment grew. Thousands of people participated in rallies and signed petitions protesting the construction of new nuclear plants. In 1990 a demonstration of 20,000 people stopped a nuclear waste facility plan for Anmyon Island. In 1993 Choi reorganized activists nationwide by launching the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Korea's largest environmental organization. As its secretary general, Choi has initiated a consumers' boycott of polluting industries, while continuing to oppose Korea's nuclear expansion policies. Choi used his Goldman Prize money to create the Korean Environmental Center. Upon completion, the Center will meet the needs of the environmental movement by providing environmental education for children, diverse environmental information for Koreans citizens and networking opportunities for all who use it. Visit KFEM's website and Korea Green Foundation. View slideshow on Saemankeum coastal wetlands.
"We can expect greater efficiency in this movement only when the government and the people cooperate together."
Submitted by aucastillo95 on Mon, 2006-03-06 11:28
An octogenarian fourth-generation Mexican-American, she was the force behind Mothers of East Los Angeles, which successfully defended East L.A. from serious environmental and public health threats. Read more »
In 1984, Aurora Castillo (d. 1998), a fourth generation Mexican-American in her seventies, learned that what would have been the eighth prison in this predominantly Latino community was being planned by the state. Worried that East Los Angeles was fast becoming a penal colony, Castillo followed the urging of her pastor and met with two other women to oppose the new prison. The Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA), a community organization fighting to protect East Los Angeles from environmental and public health threats, was born. The group organized a huge march in protest of the planned facility. They flooded hearings, demanded public meetings in Spanish and became informed about environmental issues beyond their immediate community. When MELA learned that the Santa Barbara oil pipeline was scheduled to run through their community, they played a decisive role in stopping it. Meanwhile, the prison controversy raged on until 1992 when the state finally decided to relocate the jail to a city that wanted it.
In 1987, MELA took on a toxic waste incinerator being planned for the East L.A. city of Vernon. As with the prison, permits for the incinerator had been issued without any environmental impact reports. Concerned about being directly downwind from the incinerator, MELA filed suit on behalf of the community. They also led marches and packed public hearings. After three years of constant pressure, the company abandoned plans for the incinerator.
Under Castillo's leadership, MELA also succeeded in stopping a hazardous waste treatment plant near a high school and had a company's conditional-use permit revoked for storing hazardous waste improperly. They have also worked with local industry to encourage environmental responsibility. MELA is recognized as a political force in the region that has helped to set important legal precedents for other grassroots environmental justice groups.
Castillo continued to be the spiritual force behind MELA until her death in 1998 at the age of 84. Her courage and commitment to environmental justice continues to inspire those working for the well-being of disadvantaged communities.
"The Mothers of East Los Angeles will fight like lionesses for the safety, welfare and security of their children."