World Travels Bring Prize Winners to the Bay Area

November 5, 2014

In the last few months, we have been lucky to catch up with several past Prize recipients as they’ve traveled through the Bay Area for various events.

First we caught up with 2009 Goldman Prize winners Yuyun Ismawati from Indonesia and Olga Speranskaya from Russia. Yuyun and Olga were in town for a funder’s briefing on climate, environmental health and justice, hosted by the Marisla Foundation and Global Greengrant Fund.

Yuyun and Olga became fast friends on the 2009 Goldman Prize tour, and today they work together as colleagues for IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network), a global network working to establish and implement safe chemical policies.

Olga was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2009 for her work to eradicate toxic chemicals in the environment. In 2010, she was nominated and unanimously elected to a co-chair position at IPEN. Over the years Olga has worked on several emerging issues, including electronic waste, asbestos pollution, mercury contamination, POPs and more.

Fellow 2009 Prize recipient Yuyun Ismawati also works with IPEN as a steering committee member and leader for artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and Mining issues. Yuyun is recognized by many in the international community as the authoritative global leader on this issue and is playing an instrumental role in promoting the elimination of mercury use in ASGM sectors, as well as working to ban the export-import of mercury to ASGM sectors globally.

Next we caught up with 2014 Goldman Prize winner Rudi Putra from Indonesia. Rudi was in California as part of his involvement with the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

Rudi was part of a select cohort of Indonesian civil society and government leaders working on biodiversity conservation issues that were invited to the US to meet with State Department officials, NGOs and their US counterparts to share strategies and learn from each other’s efforts.

A biologist by training, Rudi Putra is dismantling illegal palm oil plantations that are causing massive deforestation in northern Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem, protecting the habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino.

Recently, Rudi and his team secured an agreement with the Aceh government, increasing support for his efforts to protect the Leuser by dismantling illegal palm oil plantations.

Rudi also updated us about the reconstruction of his community’s research station inside the Leuser, which his organization is now rebuilding (see photos below).

Photo: An Ache government official dismantaling a palm oil plant.

Photo: Construction on the Leuser community research center