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Freshwater

Ensuring access to clean water and healthy ecosystems

Available freshwater comprises only 1.2% of all water on Earth.

Found in watersheds, rivers, and lakes, this surprisingly small quantity sustains entire communities and regions. The health of waterways directly affects those who depend on them for water, food, and economic livelihood. Protecting this precious resource is imperative in every corner of the world.

Simply put, our rivers are the Blue Heart of Europe. Wild, untamable, and incredibly beautiful.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2021
Maida Bilal

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Goldman Prize Winners awarded for Freshwater

Niwat Roykaew

Niwat Roykaew

2022 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
Asia
Thailand

In February 2020, Niwat Roykaew and the Mekong community’s advocacy resulted in the termination of the China-led Upper Mekong River rapids blasting project, which would have destroyed 248 miles of the Mekong to deepen navigation channels for Chinese cargo ships traveling downstream. Flowing 3,000 miles from the mountains of Tibet before draining to the South China Sea, the biodiversity-rich Mekong River’s fisheries, tributaries, wetlands, and floodplains are a vital lifeline for more than 65 million people. This is the first time the Thai government has canceled a transboundary project because of the environmental destruction it would cause.


Maida Bilal

2021 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Maida Bilal led a group of women from her village in a 503-day blockade of heavy equipment that resulted in the cancellation of permits for two proposed dams on the Kruščica River in December 2018. The Balkans are home to the last free-flowing rivers in Europe. However, a massive hydropower boom in the region threatens to irreversibly damage thousands of miles of pristine rivers. This is the first Prize for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Alberto Curamil

Alberto Curamil

2019 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
South & Central America
Chile

Alberto Curamil, an indigenous Mapuche, organized the people of Araucanía to stop the construction of two hydroelectric projects on the sacred Cautín River in central Chile. The destructive projects, canceled in late 2016, would have diverted hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the river each day, harming a critical ecosystem and exacerbating drought conditions in the region. 


Berta Cáceres

2015 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
South & Central America
Honduras

In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres (d. 2016) rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.


Myint Zaw

Myint Zaw

2015 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
Asia
Myanmar

Facing heavy government scrutiny and restricted use of tools like email or social media, Myint Zaw launched a national movement that successfully stopped construction of the Myitsone Dam on Myanmar’s treasured Irrawaddy River.


Ruth Buendia

Ruth Buendía

2014 Goldman Prize Winner
Freshwater
South & Central America
Peru

Overcoming a history of traumatic violence, Ruth Buendía united the Asháninka people in a powerful campaign against large-scale dams that would have once again uprooted indigenous communities still recovering from Peru’s civil war.


Partners in Freshwater

The Goldman Prize is honored to partner with a variety of environmental organizations around the world, each of them united in the goal of protecting our planet. From our nominating partners to global organizations to grassroots NGOs led by Prize winners, they are all essential parts of the environmental community.

  • American Rivers logo
  • International Rivers logo
  • Riverwatch logo
  • Waterkeeper Alliance logo
  • Pacific Institute logo
  • Friends of Lake Turkana logo
  • Nature Iraq logo
  • Environment People Law logo