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1996 Goldman Prize Winner Marina Silva Announces Bid for Brazilian Presidency

September 3, 2014

Following the tragic news that the Brazilian Socialist Party’s (PSB) top presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash last month, Campos’ running mate and 1996 Goldman Prize winner Marina Silva announced that she had accepted PSB’s nomination to take his place in the upcoming election.

Born in the Brazilian Amazon, Silva spent her childhood making rubber, hunting and fishing to help her father support their large family. At the age of 16, illness brought her to the city. Although she had been illiterate, she soon earned a university degree. She went on to found the independent trade union movement with rubber tapper leader Chico Mendes in the state of Acre.

She was awarded the Goldman Prize in 1996 for her work to preserve the Amazon rainforest by establishing a 2-million-hectare reserve managed by traditional communities.

From 2003 to 2008, Silva served as Brazil’s Minister of the Environment. In October 2010, she made another run for the presidency of Brazil, and although she did not win the election, she was one of the top three candidates and won enough votes to force a run-off.

This time around, Silva is expected to perform even better in the polls. According to the New York Times, “An opinion poll showed Silva, who has vowed to find common ground between her activist ideals and investor-friendly economic policies, tied in second place with the Brazilian Social Democracy Party’s Aecio Neves for the October 5 election. The vote is expected to go to a runoff in which Silva, if she finishes ahead of Neves, enjoys growing odds of defeating Rousseff.”

Finding “common ground between her activist ideals and investor-friendly economic policies” has been something Silva has been working on for many years. In October 2012, she stopped by the Goldman Prize office to discuss her work on sustainable development through the Marina Silva Institute.

Silva told us she hoped the institute would do for sustainable development what the Jane Goodall Institute did for wildlife conservation, offering new perspectives and fresh solutions for the future of sustainability.

Silva commented that a paradigm shift is necessary for our society to begin moving in the right direction, saying, “It is not enough to question our inadequate ways of doing things, we must question our inadequate way of being, because sustainable development is not just a way of doing things, it is a way of living.”

The Goldman Prize will be watching as the presidential race unfolds, so be sure to check back often for updates.

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