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Alvaro Umaña

March 10, 2022

A member of the Jury since 1991, Alvaro Umaña’s international career spans academia, government, philanthropy, and NGOs. As Costa Rica’s first Minister of Environment (1986-1990), under President Oscar Arias, he was internationally recognized for his pathbreaking contribution to conservation, including the implementation of innovative financial instruments like debt-for-nature swaps. Dr. Umaña created the National Biodiversity Institute and developed a masters-level specialization in natural resources and sustainable development at Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas. He was founding member and chair of the World Bank Inspection Panel, an innovative mechanism for transparency and accountability in international organizations, and has served on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, the UNESCO Executive Council, the World Resources Institute, and the Stockholm Environment Institute. Dr. Umaña presently co-chairs Climate Transparency, which focuses on the climate performance of G-20 countries.

Dr. Umaña holds a BS in physics with honors and a master’s in environmental pollution control from Pennsylvania State University. He holds a PhD in environmental engineering and science and a master’s in economics from Stanford University.

Recent Posts

Goldman Prize Winners Call for Release of Nguy Thi Khanh


September 13, 2022

Today, 52 Goldman Environmental Prize winners sent a letter to the members of the UN Human Rights Council in support of Nguy Thi Khanh, the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from Vietnam. Khanh is serving a two-year prison sentence in Vietnam for the alleged crime of tax evasion, widely understood as punishment for being an…

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Stopping the Spill: How Oil Is Changing Our Earth


August 22, 2022 – By Jacqueline Kehoe

News headlines every few years can leave the impression that oil spills are rare, one-off events, like BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 or the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. In reality, they happen constantly: Over 700 million gallons of waste oil reach the ocean every year, destroying entire ecosystems and communities. Beyond its role in…

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Indigenous Communities: Protectors of our Forests


August 8, 2022 – By Jacqueline Kehoe

It has now become widely understood in environmental circles that Indigenous groups around the world are often the best stewards of land conservation because of their longstanding cultural, spiritual, and physical connections to their territories. August 9, is UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day that recognizes the unique role of Indigenous…

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