November 30, 2020
Each year, the Goldman Environmental Prize is honored to recognize six heroes of the environment. Join us tonight, November 30, 2020, at 4:00 pm PST (7:00 pm EST) on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter to meet them and hear their stories firsthand. Hosted by award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver, this virtual award ceremony will feature Robert Redford, Danni Washington, and Lenny Kravitz, as well as musical performances from Jack Johnson and Michael Franti.
As a direct result of Chibeze Ezekiel’s four-year grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant and adjoining shipping port to import coal. The coal power plant would have been Ghana’s first. Ezekiel’s activism stopped the coal industry from entering Ghana and steered the nation’s energy future away from coal.
Drawing on the power of youth activism, Kristal Ambrose convinced the government of The Bahamas to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups. Announced in April 2018, the nationwide ban went into effect in January 2020.
Leydy Pech, an indigenous Mayan beekeeper, led a coalition that successfully halted Monsanto’s planting of genetically modified soybeans in southern Mexico. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the government violated the Mayans’ constitutional rights and suspended the planting of genetically modified soybeans. Because of the persistence of Pech and her coalition, in September 2017, Mexico’s Food and Agricultural Service revoked Monsanto’s permit to grow genetically modified soybeans in seven states.
In 2017, Lucie Pinson’s activism successfully pressured France’s three largest banks to eliminate financing for new coal projects and coal companies. She then compelled French insurance companies to follow suit: between 2017 and 2019, mega insurers AXA and SCOR announced plans to end insurance coverage for coal projects.
Nemonte Nenquimo led an indigenous campaign and legal action that resulted in a court ruling protecting 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest and Waorani territory from oil extraction. Nenquimo’s leadership and the lawsuit set a legal precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador, and other tribes are following in her footsteps to protect additional tracts of rainforest from oil extraction.
Seeking to preserve both the environment and Karen culture in Myanmar, in December 2018 Paul Sein Twa led his people in establishing a 1.35-million-acre peace park—a unique and collaborative community-based approach to conservation—in the Salween River basin. The Salween River basin is a major biodiversity zone and home to the indigenous Karen people, who have long sought self-determination and cultural survival. The new park represents a major victory for peace and conservation in Myanmar.