June 21, 2012
A wet and rainy day in Rio did not dampen activists’ spirits. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, as the UN Sustainable Development summit got underway on Wednesday. Protests of every variety now fill the city, spotlighting everything from environmental protection to economic reform.
Goldman Prize staff members Melina Selverston-Scher and Jenny Park had the opportunity to participate in one of the marches that effectively shut down traffic in Rio’s financial district. They met up with Tony James, chief of the Amerindians Association of Guyana and Davi Kopenawa (pictured above), the spokesperson for the traditional Amazonian Yanomami people, to march with numerous indigenous rights groups. The colorful flag they carried is symbolic of the indigenous movement of Andean Communities.
Images from the People’s summit and mass demonstration. Click here for a great slideshow of Rio’s colorful protests.
Following their march, Park and Selverston-Scher made their way to the UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s Equator Initiative Prize ceremony. The ceremony was hosted by Edward Norton and Camilla Pitanga. Norton, a popular American actor, is also a UN Special Ambassador for Biodiversity. Pitanga is a Brazilian actress.
The program recognized 25 local initiatives from around the world, including Women and Land, an NGO based in Tajikistan, directed by Mukhabbat Mamadalieva. Park and Selverston were pleased to learn that Mamadalieva had recently connected with 2010 Goldman Prize winner Humberto Rios Labrada through a learning exchange program, where they shared lessons from their work.
The evening was wrapped up with an energetic performance by Brazilian music legend, Gil Gilbert, who dedicated a song to the indigenous people fighting the Belo Monte dam in the Xingu region of Brazil.