Elias Díaz Peña, Defender of the Environment and the Marginalized, Dies at 75

May 6, 2021

We are very sad to share the news that Elias Díaz Peña (Paraguay, 2000) passed away this week. He was 75.

Elias was a scientist, nature lover, and passionate environmental activist who spent the better part of his life fighting for Paraguay’s forests, rivers, wildlife, and communities. For decades, he created and pushed for holistic approaches to environmental problems and advocated for sustainable, humane development. He won the Goldman Prize in 2000, along with Oscar Rivas, for protecting Indigenous and marginalized communities from mass hydropower development of their riverways.

Together, Elias and Oscar co-founded Sobrevivencia in 1986 in order to restore quality of life to disenfranchised Paraguayans through environmental conservation. He continued actively working with Sobrevivencia right up until his passing, always full of ideas and energy to protect his beloved country.

Elias was a truly kind soul and will be greatly missed.

Elias Díaz Peña (left, in blue) and Oscar Rivas (right, in red) at a Goldman Environmental Prize networking event in Bogota in 2019.