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The Year in Review: Goldman Prize Highlights from 2014


December 24, 2014

As our 25th Anniversary year comes to a close, we are taking the opportunity to look back at some of our favorite highlights from 2014.

In March, we kicked off our official anniversary celebrations with Goldman Prize winners Kim Wasserman and Maria Gunnoe, who joined Goldman Prize Board members John and Doug Goldman for “The Goldman Prize at 25,” a two part program on the history of the Goldman Prize and the impact Prize winners have had on the environment over the last 25 years. The event was part of the Commonwealth Club’s Climate One project, which seeks to foster wide-ranging discussions on environmental, energy, and climate change issues, and make these discussions available to a broad range of people around the world.


On April 28, we celebrated the 25th annual Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony in San Francisco. This year the 4,000 person audience was augmented by countless online viewers from around the world, who for the first time, had the opportunity to view the ceremony via a live stream on the Goldman Prize YouTube channel.


The standing-room only event was full of surprises and specials guests, including Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash who delivered knock-out musical performances. Master of Ceremonies Soledad O’Brien, Goldman Prize President John Goldman and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave moving speeches that energized and excited the crowd. Afterward, a flash mob choreographed by Heath Hunter, and accompanied by a pair of African drummers, delighted the crowd with a surprise dance performance to “Revolution in Paradise” on the marble staircase in City Hall.


In June, after eight long years of dedicated activism, 1997 Goldman Prize winner Juan Pablo Orrego celebrated a huge victory as the Chilean government rejected an $8 billion dam proposal that would have devastated Patagonia. The decision was touted as “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile.”


Later in June, the call for climate action picked up some serious momentum, as over 300,000 concerned citizens took to the streets of Manhattan for the People’s Climate March to demand swift action on climate change. Several Goldman Prize winners were among the marchers, including Father Edwin Gariguez, Desmond D’Sa, and Oscar Olivera. The following day, more than 50 foundations, including the Goldman Environmental Foundation, announced that they would be divesting their assets from fossil fuel companies as part of the Divest/Invest movement.


In early September, following the tragic news that the Brazilian Socialist Party’s (PSB) top presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash, Campos’ running mate and 1996 Goldman Prize winner Marina Silva announced that she had accepted PSB’s nomination to take his place in the election. Although she did not win, her run fundamentally altered the course of the race and put environmental issues on the forefront of Brazil’s national dialogue.


In November, shortly after hosting a funder briefing at the Goldman Prize office in San Francisco, 2002 Prize recipient and Adeso founder, Fatima Jibrell, received high honors in Washington, DC, with the United Nation’s Champions of the Earth award. The award is known as the United Nation’s highest environmental accolade.


On December 2nd, the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak that killed 20,000 and injured more than 150,000 in Bhopal, India, we spotlighted the work of 2004 Goldman Prize winners Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, who used their award money to create the Chingari Trust, a nonprofit clinic that tends to the physical, mental and emotional needs of the children of Bhopal survivors.


And finally, on December 17th, Goldman Prize winner Helen Slottje celebrated a major victory as New York state announced a statewide ban on fracking. Slottje was awarded the Prize in 2014 for providing pro-bono legal assistance to help towns across New York defend themselves from oil and gas companies by passing local bans on fracking.


Congratulations to all the Prize winners and environmental activists who celebrated victories this year. We can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

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