Makoma Lekalakala & Liz McDaid
As grassroots activists, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid built a broad coalition to stop the South African government’s massive secret nuclear deal with Russia. On April 26, 2017, the High Court ruled that the $76 billion nuclear power project was unconstitutional—a landmark legal victory that protected South Africa from an unprecedented expansion of the nuclear industry and production of radioactive waste.
The hazards of a nuclear future
Nuclear energy has been promoted as green energy, but the negative environmental impacts of the nuclear industry are substantial. For every pound of enriched uranium that goes into a nuclear reactor, more than 25,000 pounds of radioactive waste are produced in the mining and processing of uranium. Used reactor fuel remains extremely hot for hundreds of years and radioactive for thousands of years.
South Africa currently has one nuclear power station, Koeberg, operated by the state-owned electric utility, Eskom. Koeberg’s spent reactor fuel—high-level radioactive waste—is retained in storage ponds on site, and Eskom has not found a long-term solution for its disposal. Since the 1980s, nuclear waste from the reactor has been buried in the Namaqualand desert, home to the indigenous Nama people, who were not consulted about the location of the nuclear waste site.
In 2014, South Africa’s government made a secret deal with Russia to develop 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by building eight to ten nuclear power stations throughout South Africa. The $76 billion deal was unprecedented in scope and cost, and assigned all liability for nuclear accidents to South Africa. The proposed site of the first new nuclear station was on the coast of Port Elizabeth, where warm water discharged by the nuclear station’s cooling system would have raised the temperature of the ocean, harming marine life and jeopardizing the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen in the area. The reactor’s location also put it at risk from seismic activity, with the potential to spark an accident like that at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.
Two powerful women
Makoma Lekalakala was raised in Soweto and is the director for Earthlife Africa, a largely volunteer-driven organization that mobilizes South Africans around environmental issues. She divides her time between her home in Johannesburg and the Earthlife satellite office in the Limpopo province, where pollution from power stations and coal mines has contaminated local communities to such an extent that farmers can no longer safely grow crops. Lekalakala got her start as a youth activist through her church, moving to trade unions, then women’s rights, social and economic justice, and finally environmental justice.
Liz McDaid grew up in Cape Town and is the climate change coordinator for Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), an interfaith environmental organization dedicated to confronting environmental injustice. Based in Cape Town, McDaid started out as a teacher-turned educational advocate and activist against apartheid before turning to faith-based environmental justice. She has campaigned against nuclear energy for decades, thwarting previous attempts by South Africa to develop a nuclear industry.
Exposing corruption and seeking a just energy future
In 2014, Earthlife Africa obtained a copy of the secret South African-Russian nuclear agreement. When the group learned of the deal’s financial and environmental implications, Lekalakala and McDaid, together with their colleagues, met to plan their opposition to the deal. SAFCEI had long advocated for renewable energy to address climate change and had taken a stance against South Africa’s nuclear industry. Along with their organizations, the two women developed a strategy to challenge the project—and President Zuma himself—on the grounds that the agreement had been kept secret and bypassed legal process, without any public consultation or parliamentary debate.
Lekalakala and McDaid were deeply concerned about the environmental and health impacts of massively scaling up South Africa’s uranium mining, nuclear power generation, and the production of nuclear waste. They knew that they would need to focus on the associated corruption and massive cost of the nuclear deal—a topic more likely to gain the public’s attention.
Lekalakala and McDaid met with communities around the country and explained the financial risks and environmental and human health impacts of the project. McDaid organized weekly anti-nuclear vigils in front of the Parliament in Cape Town to hold parliamentarians accountable. Lekalakala and McDaid also organized marches and public rallies against the nuclear project, protesting across South Africa.
On April 26, 2017, the Western Cape High Court ruled that the nuclear deal was unconstitutional, invalidating the agreement and stopping the $76 billion nuclear power project. Lekalakala and McDaid won a landmark legal victory protecting South Africa from the drastic development of nuclear infrastructure that would have had devastating environmental, health, and financial impacts for many generations to come. As they have noted: “It was never about energy. It was about the greed of a few individuals.”
The size of their achievement is immense for South Africa: Today, any attempt to revive a nuclear deal in South Africa would certainly face strong public opposition and legal precedent thanks to Lekalakala and McDaid’s work.
A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.
The pillage of ancestral lands
Illegal gold mining is a growing problem in Colombia, where 80% of gold is mined unlawfully, with devastating impacts on the environment—including deforestation and contamination of water sources. Illegal gold miners are estimated to dump more than 30 tons of mercury into rivers and lakes in the Amazon region each year, poisoning fish and people as far as 250 miles downstream.
La Toma sits in the Cauca Mountains of southwest Colombia, at the epicenter of the country’s illegal gold mining epidemic. The region is home to a quarter million Afro-Colombians, a population that originally was brought as slaves from Africa to work in Colombia’s colonial mines and haciendas. The Afro-Colombian community has practiced agriculture and artisanal mining for generations, using pickaxes and panning for gold nuggets in the Ovejas River. The Ovejas is the lifeblood of the community, providing water to drink and fish to eat year-round.
In 2014, illegal miners began operating 14 backhoes on the banks of the Ovejas River near La Toma, wreaking havoc on the local environment. They cleared forests and dug deep open pits, destroying the natural flow of the river and killing fish. An estimated 2,000 such backhoes dotted the Cauca region.
Hordes of illegal miners, numbering in the thousands, descended upon the open pits in a rush for gold. Illegal miners used mercury and cyanide to extract the gold from dirt and rock. These toxic chemicals flowed directly into the Ovejas River, contaminating the community’s only source of fresh water. Mining camps transformed into small cities, much like the boom towns of the California Gold Rush. With populations of up to 5,000 people, these cities gave rise to prostitution, illegal drug use, and rampant violence as miners preyed upon and clashed with local residents.
A leader is born
Francia Márquez is a single mother of two who was born in Yolombo, a village in the Cauca region. She first became an activist at 13, when construction of a dam threatened her community, and has employed Afro-Colombian music and dance as key elements of her cultural and political expression. As a young woman, Márquez became a local leader who took on the struggle for environmental and ancestral land rights, fighting and beating back incursions into La Toma by multi-national mining companies. She also educated farmers in her region on sustainable agricultural techniques and joined the national Afro-Colombian network to promote Afro-Colombian cultural and land rights. She is currently studying law at Santiago de Cali University.
Challenging illegal mining
In 2014, the first backhoes arrived in La Toma. Hearing of the devastation, Márquez put her legal studies on hold and returned to La Toma. She directly confronted the backhoe operators—to no avail. Undeterred, she gathered community members to plan a strategy, knowing that she needed to unite the women of La Toma if they were going to save their town, river, and people.
Márquez appealed to the UN High Commissioner for Colombia, then organized a 10-day, 350-kilometer march of 80 women who trekked from the Cauca Mountains to Bogota in November 2014. The march brought widespread national attention to the environmental and social destruction that illegal mining was causing in La Toma and other communities in the Cauca region.
Once in Bogota, Márquez and the women spent 22 days protesting on the streets. In December 2014, Márquez and the community of La Toma reached an agreement with the Colombian government. Officials agreed to take action to eradicate illegal mining in La Toma. All machinery and backhoes found to be operating illegally in the region would be seized and destroyed. In 2015, the government created a national task force on illegal mining—the first of its kind in Colombia. As a direct result of Márquez’s work, all illegal mining operations in La Toma ceased. By the end of 2016, all illegal mining machinery operating in La Toma had been physically removed or destroyed by Colombian security forces.
Throughout the 2014-2016 campaign to combat illegal mining in La Toma, Márquez was repeatedly harassed, disrespected, and threatened. She was forced to move to Cali for her safety. Márquez continues to press the government to study the effects of illegal mining in the northern Cauca region, especially the contamination of the Ovejas and other rivers. Independent reports are showing mercury levels of up to 500 parts per billion in those critical water sources, while Colombian standards permit up to 1 part per billion in potable water. Mercury and cyanide contamination of water continues to cause serious health problems for the people of La Toma and the wider region.
Márquez’s success in La Toma has been a powerful example for others in the region, inspiring residents to resist illegal mining in their communities. She overcame sexism, racism, and corruption to lead La Toma’s struggle, and is now seeking to represent the Afro-Colombian community—and its stewardship of its ancestral land—in the Colombian House of Representatives.
Una formidable líder de la comunidad afrocolombiana, Francia Márquez organizó a las mujeres de La Toma y detuvo la extracción ilegal de oro en sus tierras ancestrales. Ella ejerció una presión constante sobre el gobierno colombiano y encabezó una marcha de 10 días y 350 millas con 80 mujeres a la capital de la nación, lo que resultó en la eliminación de todos los mineros y equipos ilegales de su comunidad.
El saqueo de tierras ancestrales
La extracción ilegal de oro es un problema creciente en Colombia, donde el 80% del oro se extrae ilegalmente, lo que tiene un impacto devastador en el medio ambiente, incluso la deforestación y la contaminación de las fuentes de agua. Se estima que los mineros de oro ilegales vierten más de 30 toneladas de mercurio en los ríos y lagos de la región del Amazonas cada año, envenenando a los peces y la gente hasta 250 millas río abajo.
La Toma se encuentra en las montañas del Cauca, en el suroeste de Colombia, en el epicentro de la epidemia de minería de oro ilegal en el país. La región es hogar para un cuarto de millón de afrocolombianos, una población que originalmente fue traída como esclavos de África para trabajar en las minas y haciendas coloniales de Colombia. La comunidad afrocolombiana ha practicado la agricultura y la minería artesanal por generaciones, utilizando picos y paneo para pepitas de oro en el río Ovejas. El río Ovejas es el alma de la comunidad, que proporciona agua para beber y pescar durante todo el año.
En el 2014, los mineros ilegales comenzaron a operar 14 retroexcavadoras en las orillas del río Ovejas, cerca de La Toma, causando devastación al medio ambiente local. Despejaron bosques y cavaron pozos profundos, destruyendo el flujo natural del río y matando a los peces. Se estima que 2,000 de esas retroexcavadoras salpican la región del Cauca.
Hordas de mineros ilegales, siendo ya miles, descendieron a las fosas abiertas en una estampida por obtener el oro. Los mineros ilegales usaron mercurio y cianuro para extraer el oro de la tierra y la roca. Estos químicos tóxicos fluyeron directamente al río Ovejas, contaminando la única fuente de agua dulce de la comunidad. Los campos mineros se transformaron en pequeñas ciudades, muy parecido a las ciudades en auge del Gold Rush de California. Con poblaciones de hasta 5.000 personas, estas ciudades provocaron la prostitución, el uso de drogas ilegales y la violencia desenfrenada cuando los mineros atacaban y se enfrentaban con los residentes locales.
Nace un líder
Francia Márquez, de 36 años, es madre soltera de dos hijos nacida en Yolombo, un pueblo de la región del Cauca. Fue activista por primera vez a los 13 años, cuando su comunidad fue amenazada por la construcción de una presa y ha empleado la música y el baile afrocolombiano como elementos clave de su expresión cultural y política. De joven, Márquez asumió el papel de líder local encabezando la lucha por los derechos ambientales y de tierras ancestrales, luchando y rechazando incursiones en La Toma por parte de compañías mineras multinacionales. También educó a los agricultores de su región sobre técnicas agrícolas sustentables y se unió a la red nacional afrocolombiana para promover los derechos culturales y de tierra de los afrocolombianos. Actualmente estudia derecho en la Universidad de Santiago de Cali.
Desafiando la minería ilegal
En 2014, las primeras retroexcavadoras llegaron a La Toma. Al enterarse de la devastación, Márquez suspendió sus estudios legales y regresó a La Toma. Ella enfrentó directamente a los operadores de la retroexcavadora, pero fue en vano. Sin desalentarse, reunió a los miembros de la comunidad para planear una estrategia, sabiendo que ella tenía que unir a las mujeres de La Toma si iban a salvar su pueblo, su río y su gente.
Márquez recurrió al Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para Colombia y luego organizó una marcha de 10 días y 350 kilómetros con 80 mujeres que viajaron desde las montañas del Cauca a Bogotá en noviembre de 2014. La marcha atrajo la atención nacional hacia la destrucción ambiental y social que la minería ilegal estaba causando en La Toma y otras comunidades en la región del Cauca.
Una vez en Bogotá, Márquez y las mujeres pasaron 22 días protestando en las calles. En diciembre de 2014, Márquez y la comunidad de La Toma llegaron a un acuerdo con el gobierno colombiano. Los funcionarios acordaron tomar medidas para erradicar la minería ilegal en La Toma. Toda maquinaria y retroexcavadoras que se encontraran operando ilegalmente en la región serían incautadas y destruidas. En 2015, el gobierno creó un grupo de trabajo nacional sobre la minería ilegal, el primero de este tipo en Colombia. Como resultado directo del trabajo de Márquez, todas las operaciones mineras ilegales en La Toma cesaron. A fines de 2016, toda la maquinaria minera ilegal que operaba en La Toma había sido físicamente removida o destruida por las fuerzas de seguridad colombianas.
A lo largo de la campaña 2014-2016 para combatir la minería ilegal en La Toma, Márquez fue hostigada, faltada al respeto y amenazada reiteradamente. Se vio obligada a mudarse a Cali por su seguridad. Márquez continúa presionando al gobierno para que estudie los efectos de la minería ilegal en la región norte del Cauca, especialmente la contaminación del río Ovejas y otros. Los informes independientes muestran niveles de mercurio de hasta 500 partes por mil millones en esas fuentes de agua críticas, mientras que las normas colombianas permiten hasta 1 parte por mil millones en agua potable. La contaminación del agua con mercurio y cianuro continúa causando serios problemas de salud para la gente de La Toma y la región en general.
El éxito de Márquez en La Toma ha sido un poderoso ejemplo para otros en la región, inspirando a los residentes a resistir la minería ilegal en sus comunidades. Ella superó el sexismo, el racismo y la corrupción para liderar la lucha de La Toma y ahora busca representar a la comunidad afrocolombiana – y su administración de sus tierras ancestrales – en la Cámara de Representantes de Colombia.
Khanh Nguy Thi
Khanh Nguy Thi used scientific research and engaged Vietnamese state agencies to advocate for sustainable long-term energy projections in Vietnam. Highlighting the cost and environmental impacts of coal power, she partnered with state officials to reduce coal dependency and move toward a greener energy future.
The proven dangers of coal
As its economy booms, Vietnam’s electricity needs have been growing at roughly 12% per year for the past decade. Vietnam is one of four Asian nations that lead the world in new coal plant construction. After exploiting most of its hydropower potential, in 2011 the Vietnamese government turned to coal and nuclear to meet its future energy needs. A large portion of the coal burned in Vietnam is imported, increasing the country’s reliance on expensive imports. As the dirtiest form of electricity generation, coal is responsible for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is a major source of air and water pollution.
In 2011, the Vietnamese government published its 2011-2020 Power Development Plan, which outlined the country’s future energy needs and called for 75,000 megawatts of coal-fired power by 2030. A 2015 Harvard University study concluded that about 20,000 citizens per year would die prematurely as a result of air pollution if all proposed coal plants were built in Vietnam.
A methodical scientist and humble consensus builder
Khanh Nguy Thi was born into a rural family in Bac Am, a village in northern Vietnam. Growing up near a coal plant, she experienced firsthand the pollution and dust from coal operations and witnessed many people in her community develop cancer. Nguy Thi studied history, French, and diplomacy and had planned on becoming a diplomat. However, she was always passionate about the environment and, after graduating from college, began working on water conservation issues and community development for a small Vietnamese nonprofit organization.
In 2011, Nguy Thi founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) in order to promote sustainable energy development in Vietnam, as well as good water and air governance and green development. She also established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance, a network of 11 Vietnamese and international environmental and social organizations that collaborate on regional energy issues. She is deeply focused on engaging with experts and decisionmakers on renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and coal power.
Collaborating with state agencies for a sustainable energy future
Vietnam’s Power Development Plan predicted a dramatic increase in energy demands based on steep economic growth. Nguy Thi’s research suggested more modest energy needs and economic growth projections. Additionally, she was concerned about the plan’s heavy reliance on coal and the long-term energy security and climate implications for Vietnam.
Nguy Thi learned everything she could about coal and climate change, and worked with colleagues and officials to develop an alternate, more sustainable plan. In 2013, she collaborated with energy experts and produced a study on the opportunity to reduce the coal share of the power supply mix in favor of sustainable energy sources. The study detailed how expensive and risky coal was as a primary source of electric power, and proposed alternatives. Around the same time, several coal-related environmental disasters in Vietnam highlighted coal’s dangers and pushed the discussion about Vietnam’s energy future into the public domain. Nguy Thi organized training and communication activities in eight communities affected by the disasters. She worked with the media to publish evidence-based articles about coal and its impacts, and sat on several panels about air pollution.
The extensive media coverage and widespread public debate about coal allowed Nguy Thi and GreenID to collaborate with the Vietnamese government on a revised energy development plan. In January 2016, the government announced that it intended to review development plans for all new coal plants and affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to responsibly implement international commitments for reducing greenhouse gases.
Nguy Thi’s research and collaboration on a more environmentally sustainable national energy plan supported the Vietnamese government’s March 2016 announcement of its revised Power Development Plan. The revised plan significantly reduced the number of coal plants in the pipeline and incorporated Nguy Thi’s recommendation to increase renewable energy—such as wind, solar, and biomass—to 21% of the total energy plan by 2030. With these developments, Nguy Thi has helped guide Vietnam on a path toward energy independence. She is committed to working with her peers and the government to support Vietnam’s transition to renewable and sustainable energy solutions.
Ngụy Thị Khanh đã sử dụng các nghiên cứu khoa học và hợp tác với các cơ quan nhà nước Việt Nam nhằm thúc đẩy các kế hoạch phát triển năng lượng dài hạn bền vững ở Việt Nam. Nêu bật những phí tổn và tác động môi trường của nhiệt điện than, cô đã hợp tác với các cơ quan chức năng nhằm giảm sự lệ thuộc vào than và hướng tới một tương lai năng lượng xanh hơn.
Những hiểm họa rõ ràng của năng lượng than
Nền kinh tế phát triển bùng nổ đã khiến cho nhu cầu điện của Việt Nam tăng khoảng 12%/năm trong thập kỷ qua. Việt Nam là một trong bốn nước châu Áđứng đầu thế giớivề xây dựng mới nhiệt điện than. Sau khi đã khai thác gần hết tiềm năng thủy điện, năm 2011 chính phủ Việt Nam đã chuyển sang phát triển nhiệt điện than và điện hạt nhân nhằm đáp ứng nhu cầu năng lượng trong tương lai. Một lượng khá lớn than sử dụng ở Việt Nam là than nhập khẩu, làm gia tăng sự lệ thuộc của đất nước vào các nguồn nhập khẩu đắt đỏ.Là một loại nhiên liệu phát điện gây ô nhiễm nhất, than đá gây ra 40% lượng phát thải khí nhà kính toàn cầu và là một nguồn chủ yếu gây ô nhiễm không khí và nước.
Năm 2011, chính phủ Việt Nam công bố Quy hoạch phát triển điện lực quốc gia giai đoạn 2011-2020 có xét đến 2030 (Quy hoạch điện 7), trong đó vạch ra nhu cầu năng lượng của đất nước trong tương lai và đặt mục tiêu đạt tổng công suất 75.000 MW nhiệt điện than đến năm 2030. Một nghiên cứu năm 2015 của Đại học Harvard kết luận rằng ô nhiễm không khí sẽ khiến khoảng 20.000 người chết sớm mỗi năm nếu tất cả các nhà máy nhiệt điện than theo quy hoạch được xây dựng ở Việt Nam.
Một nhà khoa học cẩn trọng và một người xây dựng sự đồng lòng khiêm tốn
Ngụy Thị Khanh, 41 tuổi, sinh ra trong một gia đình nông thôn tại Bắc Am, một ngôi làng ở miền Bắc Việt Nam. Lớn lên gần một nhà máy nhiệt điện than, chính Khanh đã phải chịu đựng ô nhiễm và bụi do hoạt động của nhà máy này gây ra và chứng kiến nhiều người trong khu vực mắc bệnh ung thư. Khanh theo học lịch sử, tiếng Pháp và ngoại giao và từng dự định trở thành một nhà ngoại giao. Tuy nhiên, cô lại luôn đam mê với lĩnh vực môi trường và sau khi tốt nghiệp đại học, cô bắt đầu làm về bảo tồn tài nguyên nước và phát triển cộng đồng cho một tổ chức phi lợi nhuận nhỏ của Việt Nam.
Năm 2011, Khanh thành lập Trung tâm Phát triển Sáng tạo Xanh (GreenID) nhằm thúc đẩy phát triển năng lượng bền vững ở Việt Nam, quản lý tốt hơn tài nguyên nước, không khí và phát triển xanh. Cô đồng thời là thành viên sang lậpLiên minh năng lượng bền vững Việt Nam, một mạng lưới gồm 11 tổ chức Việt Nam và quốc tế hoạt động trong lĩnh vực môi trường và xã hội cùng hợp tác về các vấn đề năng lượng khu vực. Cô chủ yếu tập trung làm việc với các chuyên gia và các nhà hoạch định chính sách về năng lượng tái tạo và hiệu quả năng lượng nhằm giảm sự lệ thuộc vào các dạng nhiên liệu hóa thạch và điện than.
Hợp tác với các cơ quan nhà nước vì một tương lai năng lượng bền vững
Quy hoạch điện 7 dự báo tăng trưởng kinh tế ở mức cao sẽ khiến nhu cầu năng lượng của Việt Nam tăng mạnh. Tuy nhiên, nghiên cứu của Khanh lại dự báo tăng trưởng kinh tế và nhu cầu năng lượng sẽ phát triển ở mức khiêm tốn hơn. Ngoài ra, cô cũng bày tỏ lo ngại về kế hoạch dựa quá nhiều vào than đá, và những tác động đến an ninh năng lượng lâu dài và biến đổi khí hậu đối với Việt Nam.
Khanh học hỏi mọi thứ có thể liên quan nhiệt điện than và biến đổi khí hậu, đồng thời cùng với các đồng nghiệp và các cơ quan chức năng phát triển một kế hoạch thay thế mang tính bền vững hơn. Năm 2013, cô đã hợp tác cùng các chuyên gia năng lượng và đã cho ra đời một nghiên cứu về cơ hội giảm tỷ trọng nhiệt điện than trong tổng cơ cấu nguồn cung năng lượng theo hướng ủng hộ sự phát triển của các nguồn năng lượng bền vững. Nghiên cứu đã chỉ rõ sự đắt đỏ và nguy hại của nhiệt điện than khi nó được chọn là một nguồn phát điện chủ yếu và đề xuất các giải pháp thay thế.Cùng thời điểm đó, những vụ việc về môi trường liên quan đến năng lượng than ở Việt Nam đã nêu bật lên những hiểm họa của nhiệt điện than và thúc đẩy dư luận thảo luận nhiều hơn về tương lai năng lượng Việt Nam. Khanh đã tổ chức các hoạt động đào tạo và truyền thông cho 8 cộng đồng bị ảnh hưởng bởi các vấn đề môi trường liên quan đến than.Cô đã làm việc với báo chí để đăng tải các bài báo dựa trên những bằng chứng thực tế về nhiệt điện than và tác động của nó và tham dự nhiều cuộc thảo luận về ô nhiễm không khí.
Thông tin rộng rãi trên báo chí và những cuộc tranh luận công khai về năng lượng than đã cho phép Khanh và GreenID hợp tác với chính phủ Việt Nam về một kế hoạch phát triển năng lượng sửa đổi. Tháng 1/2016, chính phủ đã tuyên bố sẽ xem lại kế hoạch phát triển toàn bộ các nhà máy nhiệt điện than mới và khẳng địnhViệt Nam sẽ thực hiện có trách nhiệm các cam kết quốc tế nhằm giảm khí nhà kính.
Nghiên cứu và sự hợp tác của Khanh về một kế hoạch năng lượng quốc gia bền vững hơn về mặt môi trường đã tích cực hỗ trợ chính phủ Việt Nam cho ra đờiQuy hoạch điện 7 điều chỉnh công bố tháng 3/2016. Quy hoạch này giảm đáng kể số nhà máy nhiệt điện than so với kế hoạch trước đây đồng thời tiếp thu đề xuất của Khanh trong việc tăng tỷ trọng năng lượng tái tạo như điện gió, điện mặt trời và điện sinh khối lên 21% trong kế hoạch nguồn điện tổng thể đến năm 2030. Với những hoạt động đó, Khanh đã góp phần giúp định hướng Việt Nam theo con đường độc lập về năng lượng. Cô cam kết hợp tác với các đối tác và chính phủ nhằm hỗ trợ Việt Nam chuyển đổi sang các giải pháp năng lượng tái tạo và bền vững.
Manny Calonzo spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint. He then led the development of a third-party certification program to ensure that paint manufacturers meet this standard. As of 2017, 85% of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as lead safe.
An environmental poison
The hazards of lead paint have been well-documented and regulated in developed nations for more than 40 years. But lead paint remains a major environmental health issue in developing countries—including the Philippines. Studies conducted in the early 2000s revealed startlingly high levels of lead in decorative paint in more than 30 developing countries—showing lead levels routinely above 600 parts per million (ppm), and often higher than 10,000 ppm. The US allows lead levels of no more than 90 ppm.
Traditionally, lead is added to paint to help it dry smoother, faster, and be more opaque. High quality, cost-effective alternatives to lead ingredients exist and are used in developed countries. Unlike many environmental health issues, the science on lead poisoning is indisputable. Studies have shown that the presence of lead paint on home interiors and exteriors is strongly linked to lead levels in children’s blood. Over time, paint on surfaces will chip and deteriorate, which releases lead into the dust and soil around homes, schools, and other locations. Children playing in these environments get the soil or dust on their hands and ingest it through normal hand-to-mouth contact.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin; even low levels of lead exposure can impair children’s cognitive function. Childhood lead poisoning can have lifelong health impacts, including learning disabilities, reduced IQ, anemia, and disorders in physical, visual, spatial, and language skills.
Taking initiative and leading the way
Manny Calonzo grew up in the city of Makati in metro Manila and has worked on consumer and human rights issues for over 30 years. He is a past president of the EcoWaste Coalition, a Philippine network of more than 150 community, church, school, environmental, and health groups that work for sustainable solutions to waste, climate change, and the control of toxic chemicals. After his term as president ended, he launched the EcoWaste campaign for lead-safe paint. He works to protect his fellow Filipinos and support and advise his counterparts in other Asian nations on lead contamination.
Making friends of opponents, building consensus
In 2008, spurred by mounting international concerns about lead paint, Calonzo created a national, evidence-based campaign in the Philippines to eliminate lead paint. Paint sold in the Philippines had not been part of international studies, so Calonzo organized scientific research on lead content in paints. In 2009, EcoWaste found that the majority of paint sold in the Philippines contained levels of lead above 90 ppm, and more than 40% of the paint contained lead levels over 10,000 ppm.
Under Calonzo’s leadership, EcoWaste conducted studies over the next four years, examining the lead content of paint and dust found in the environment surrounding Philippine homes, schools, and daycare centers. Attracting significant media attention, these studies were critical in establishing that high lead levels were ubiquitous and dangerous for Filipino children. Over the course of the campaign, Calonzo organized more than 100 public and media events to raise awareness about the prevalence of lead paint, and called for a mandatory standard for lead in paint.
Calonzo built alliances with members from the health sector and academia, and organized press conferences to provide expert opinions on the hazards of lead exposure. He reached out to the paint industry to build partnerships and, ultimately, secured its support for eliminating lead in paint.
In December 2013, the Philippine government announced the Chemical Control Order, establishing a legal maximum of 90 ppm for lead in paint. Recognizing the need for monitoring adherence to the policy, Calonzo worked with the paint industry and developed a plan for a voluntary, third-party program to certify that paints contain less than 90 ppm of lead. He and his fellow activists sought the certification to allow consumers to distinguish between lead safe paints and those that contained unknown levels of lead.
In July 2016, the two leading paint companies operating in the Philippines were certified as lead-safe by the program that Calonzo helped create. By January 2017, 85% of the paint market had been certified as lead safe and Philippine schools now require use of certified paint. This achievement protects millions of Filipino children under the age of six from lead exposure.
Calonzo is now spreading the Philippine model across Asia, partnering with local organizations to oversee studies of lead in paint in Mongolia, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and introducing the certification program to paint brands in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
LeeAnne Walters led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis. The results showed that one in six homes had lead levels in water that exceeded the EPA’s safety threshold. Walters’ persistence compelled the local, state, and federal governments to take action and ensure that residents of Flint have access to clean water.
A water contamination crisis without boundaries
The Flint River has served as a traditional dumping ground for local industry, starting with lumber mills in the 1830s, followed by paper mills, chemical processing plants, and automobile manufacturing. The city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River in 1893. By 1955, the river was so polluted that Flint was compelled to switch its drinking water supply to a nearby reservoir. In 1967, the city began purchasing cleaner water from Detroit, which sources its water from Lake Huron.
In 2011, with the city of Flint facing a $25 million deficit, the state of Michigan took over Flint’s finances. The state found that it could save money by building its own pipeline to Lake Huron. However, the project would take at least two years to complete, and the state sought an inexpensive, temporary alternative. In April 2014, state and local officials began using the Flint River as the city’s primary source of water again.
Almost immediately, Flint residents noticed an orange-brown tinge to their water. When city officials finally tested the water four months later, they found E. coli in the water supply. In July 2014, Flint resident LeeAnne Walters noticed a rash on both of her three-year-old twins. Local doctors diagnosed the rash as scabies. Walters and her daughter then began losing clumps of hair in the shower, and Walters’ eyelashes fell out. In December 2014, Walters’ 14-year-old son fell ill.
A self-taught grassroots problem-solver
LeeAnne Walters is a stay-at-home mother of four children and a native of New Jersey who has lived in Flint since 1993. Married to a Navy serviceman, Walters and her family now divide their time between Flint and Norfolk, Virginia, where her husband is currently stationed. She adores Flint and describes it as a tight-knit, friendly community where she knows 90% of her neighbors.
Walters has an inquisitive, persistent, and logical mind. Her training as a medical assistant proved to be a useful foundation for extensive, rapid self-education in water chemistry, public works, and environmental contamination that was essential to her efforts. Her communal spirit and powerful moral compass proved equally critical to her ability to reach and organize Flint residents and experts alike.
Winning even when it appears hopeless
Walters first informed the city of the water problem in late 2014, but it was not until February 2015 that the city sent someone to check on her complaints. Tests revealed that lead levels in her drinking water were at 104 parts per billion (ppb)—unprecedented levels for Flint, so high that a city is required to alert residents immediately, per federal law.
Alarmed by the results, Walters sprang into action and began researching lead exposure. She learned that lead is a powerful neurotoxin that has a particularly harmful impact on young children and can result in a lower IQ, shortened attention span, increases in violence, and antisocial behavior. Each of Walters’ children tested positive for lead exposure, and one of the twins was diagnosed with lead poisoning.
Nevertheless, state authorities assured residents that the water was safe, and the city insisted that hers was an isolated case. Walters diligently studied the city’s historical water quality data. She noticed something that no one else had: Water from the Flint River was highly corrosive, and surmised that the city had not been applying adequate corrosion controls to prevent the leaching of lead from pipes into the water supply. She then launched a concerted organizing and canvassing operation to inform residents of the risk in the absence of any official response.
In March 2015, frustrated by the city’s inaction, Walters sought help from the EPA’s Miguel del Toral, a regional manager who helped her document the crisis, even as the EPA officially refused to get involved. Soon, she sought the help of Professor Marc Edwards, an environmental engineer at Virginia Tech, who helped Walters conduct extensive water quality testing in Flint.
Walters methodically sampled each zip code in Flint and set up a system to ensure the integrity of the tests. She worked over 100 hours per week for three straight weeks and collected over 800 water samples—garnering an astounding 90% response rate. She found lead levels as high as 13,200 ppb—more than twice the level the EPA classifies as hazardous waste.
Walters and Edwards presented their findings, showing that one in six homes had lead water levels exceeding the EPA’s legal safety threshold. Public pressure mounted and, in October 2015, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced that the city of Flint would stop using the Flint River for drinking water.
Walters continues to support Flint’s residents, and has also turned her energy toward preventing another U.S. crisis like the one in Flint. She actively testifies and advocates for federal action to change lead testing standards and ensure oversight of water quality, while empowering other communities to act as citizen-scientists to safeguard their own water supplies.
A tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices. Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban.
A delicate balance of marine life
In the 1980s, traditionally strong stocks of Atlantic cod and other white fish along the northeast Atlantic continental shelf began to collapse from overfishing. Fishermen ventured farther out to sea—and into deeper waters—in search of unexploited fishing grounds, yielding orange roughy, black scabbard fish, and roundnose grenadier. Most deep-sea fish grow slowly and reproduce late, making them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. By the early 2000s, these stocks were severely depleted in many cases.
In Europe, the main deep-sea fleet was French and belonged to supermarket chain Intermarché. The fleet—like many others in Europe—used a method known as bottom trawling, in which boats tow a heavily-weighted net that is dragged back and forth over the seafloor. One of the most destructive forms of fishing, bottom trawling destroys everything in its path. Metal “doors” used to keep the nets open can weigh hundreds of pounds and the nets can be up to 40 feet high and 200 feet wide. During an average 10-day fishing trip, trawlers make up to five passes per day, covering 12 to 18 square miles of sea floor (the 10 French deep-sea bottom trawlers could destroy an area the size of Paris in two days). Countless fish, sharks, crustaceans, and invertebrates picked up as bycatch are thrown overboard and rarely survive. One observer likened the practice to “clear-cutting a forest to catch a few birds.”
A passionate advocate for the sea
Claire Nouvian grew up in Algiers, Paris, and Hong Kong. The daughter of a recreational fisherman, she has vivid memories of spending weekends by the sea, learning first-hand about coastal environments.
In her 20s, Nouvian spent time in Argentina, where she was overwhelmed by the bounty of nature. Experiencing an environmental awakening, she was inspired to work on behalf of the environment, initially as a wildlife filmmaker and journalist. In this work, she saw up-close the extent to which natural habitats were shrinking and wildlife was being threatened. After filming a documentary at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, Nouvian became passionate about the deep sea.
In 2005, Nouvian founded the NGO BLOOM in order to preserve marine environments from unnecessary destruction, and soon began to build close relationships with other organizations and experts to launch the fight against deep-sea trawling.
A path to policy change
In 2008, as the EU was developing reforms of its deep-sea fisheries laws, Nouvian saw a window of opportunity to influence policy at both the French and EU levels. She began collaborating with other activists to lobby French politicians on the need for new fisheries legislation. Nouvian knew that her approach needed to be data-driven and scientifically sound in order to combat the powerful French fishing lobby, and engaging enough to influence the public. As the main powerhouse behind the French fishing lobby, convincing Intermarché to change its fishing practices was a crucial first step to securing a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling in France.
In June 2012, Nouvian won a legal battle against Intermarché for its ad campaign that falsely claimed that its fishing practices posed no harm to the marine environment. The following year, she initiated a public consumer campaign that ranked French supermarkets according to their fishing practices, focusing particularly on deep-water fish and each supermarket’s commitment to sustainable fishing. With the largest and most destructive fishing fleet, Intermarché came in last in the ranking. Based on a TEDx talk by Nouvian, French cartoonist Pénélope Bagieu published a comic strip on her blog depicting the devastation caused by deep-sea fishing. The piece was shared widely and helped garner 900,000 signatures for BLOOM’s petition asking the French government to support a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling.
Throughout 2013, Nouvian continued a media blitz, with giant public posters, newspapers ads, press statements, media interviews, and fact-based reports—all in opposition to destructive deep-sea fishing. In December 2013, public pressure on Intermarché prompted the supermarket chain to begin negotiations with Nouvian. In January 2014, Intermarché announced that it would no longer fish below 2,600 feet (800 meters) and would phase out the sale of deep-sea species by 2025.
Still, France remained one of the only EU member countries opposed to any regulation of deep-sea bottom trawling, so Nouvian launched a new media campaign pressuring the French government to change its position. In November 2015, France—in response to overwhelming public pressure—finally agreed to a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling below a depth of 2,600 feet (800 meters). In 2016, all EU member states collectively adopted the ban.
Today, Nouvian and BLOOM are collaborating with Intermarché to deepen its sustainability practices. The company has overhauled its business practices and recognizes that its bottom line is indeed tied to its sustainability impact. With BLOOM, Nouvian is now actively working to end fishing subsidies that encourage overfishing and destructive fishing practices around the world.
Défenseur infatigable des océans et de la vie marine, Claire Nouvian a mené une campagne de sensibilisation centrée sur les données contre la pêche destructrice du chalutage de fond, poussant avec succès le géant français des supermarchés Intermarché à modifier ses pratiques de pêche. Sa coalition de défenseurs a finalement obtenu le soutien français pour une interdiction sur le chalutage de fond qui a conduit à une interdiction à l’échelle de l’UE.
Un équilibre délicat de la vie marine
Dans les années 1980, les stocks traditionnellement élevés de morue franche et d’autres poissons blancs le long du plateau continental de l’Atlantique Nord-Est ont commencé à s’effondrer en raison de la surpêche. Les pêcheurs s’aventuraient plus loin dans la mer – et dans des eaux plus profondes – à la recherche de zones de pêche inexploitées, produisant de l’hoplostète orange brut, du poisson-sabre noir et du grenadier de roche. La plupart des poissons d’eaux profondes se développent lentement et se reproduisent tardivement, ce qui les rend particulièrement vulnérables à la surpêche. Au début des années 2000, ces stocks étaient gravement appauvris dans de nombreux cas.
En Europe, la principale flotte hauturière était française et appartenait à la chaîne de supermarchés Intermarché. La flotte – comme beaucoup d’autres en Europe – a utilisé une méthode connue sous le nom de chalutage de fond, dans laquelle les bateaux remorquent un filet lourdement chargé qui va et vient sur le fond marin. L’une des formes de pêche les plus destructrices, le chalutage de fond détruit tout sur son passage. Les « portes » métalliques utilisées pour maintenir les filets ouverts peuvent peser des centaines de livres et les filets peuvent mesurer jusqu’à 40 pieds de hauteur et 200 pieds de largeur. Pendant une moyenne de 10 jours de voyage de pêche, les chalutiers font jusqu’à cinq passages par jour, couvrant 12 à 18 miles carrés du fond de la mer (les 10 chalutiers de fond français pourraient détruire une zone de la taille de Paris en deux jours). D’innombrables poissons, requins, crustacés et invertébrés ramassés comme prises accessoires sont jetés par-dessus bord et survivent rarement. Un observateur a comparé cette pratique au « défrichement d’une forêt pour attraper quelques oiseaux ».
Un ardent défenseur de la mer
Claire Nouvian, 44 ans, a grandi à Alger, à Paris et à Hong Kong. Fille d’un pêcheur récréatif, elle a des souvenirs vifs de passer des week-ends à la mer, en apprenant directement sur les environnements côtiers.
Dans la vingtaine, Nouvian a passé du temps en Argentine, où elle a été submergée par la générosité de la nature. Vivant un éveil environnemental, elle a été inspirée à travailler pour l’environnement, d’abord en tant que cinéaste et journaliste de la faune. Dans ce travail, elle a vu à quel point les habitats naturels se rétrécissaient et que la faune était menacée. Après avoir tourné un documentaire à l’Aquarium de Monterey Bay en Californie, Nouvian s’est passionné pour la mer profonde.
En 2005, Nouvian a fondé l’ONG BLOOM afin de préserver les milieux marins des destructions inutiles et a rapidement noué des relations étroites avec d’autres organisations et experts pour lancer la lutte contre le chalutage de fond.
Une voie vers un changement de politique
En 2008, alors que l’UE élaborait des réformes de ses lois sur la pêche en eaux profondes, Nouvian a vu une opportunité d’influencer les politiques tant au niveau français qu’au niveau de l’UE. Elle a commencé à collaborer avec d’autres activistes pour faire pression sur les politiciens français sur la nécessité d’une nouvelle législation sur les pêches. Nouvian savait que son approche devait être fondée sur des données et scientifiquement solide afin de lutter contre le puissant lobby français de la pêche, et de s’engager suffisamment pour influencer le public. Principal moteur du lobby des pêcheurs français, convaincre Intermarché de changer ses pratiques de pêche a été une première étape cruciale pour l’interdiction du chalutage de fond en France.
En juin 2012, Nouvian a remporté une bataille juridique contre Intermarché pour sa campagne de publicité qui prétendait faussement que ses pratiques de pêche ne nuisaient pas à l’environnement marin. L’année suivante, elle a lancé une campagne de consommation publique qui a classé les supermarchés français en fonction de leurs pratiques de pêche, en se concentrant particulièrement sur les poissons d’eau profonde et l’engagement de chaque supermarché à la pêche durable. Avec la flotte de pêche la plus importante et la plus destructrice, Intermarché arrive en dernière position. Sur la base d’un entretien TEDx de Nouvian, la caricaturiste française Pénélope Bagieu a publié sur son blog une bande dessinée illustrant les ravages causés par la pêche en haute mer. La pièce a été largement partagée et a permis de récolter 900 000 signatures pour la pétition de BLOOM demandant au gouvernement français de soutenir une interdiction du chalutage de fond.
Tout au long de l’année 2013, Nouvian a poursuivi une campagne médiatique, avec des affiches publiques géantes, des publicités dans les journaux, des communiqués de presse, des entrevues médiatiques et des reportages factuels, tous contre la pêche destructrice en haute mer. En décembre 2013, la pression publique sur Intermarché a incité la chaîne de supermarchés à entamer des négociations avec Nouvian. En janvier 2014, Intermarché a annoncé qu’il ne pêcherait plus à moins de 2 600 pieds (800 mètres) et éliminerait progressivement la vente d’espèces d’eau profonde d’ici 2025.
Pourtant, la France restait l’un des seuls pays membres de l’UE opposés à toute réglementation du chalutage de fond, si bien que Nouvian a lancé une nouvelle campagne médiatique faisant pression sur le gouvernement français pour qu’il change sa position. En novembre 2015, la France, en réponse à une pression publique écrasante, a finalement accepté l’interdiction du chalutage profond sous la profondeur de 2 600 pieds (800 mètres). En 2016, tous les États membres de l’UE ont collectivement emboîté le pas.
Aujourd’hui, Nouvian et BLOOM collaborent avec Intermarché pour approfondir ses pratiques de développement durable. La société a révisé ses pratiques commerciales et reconnaît que ses résultats sont en effet liés à son impact sur le développement durable. Avec BLOOM, Nouvian travaille activement pour mettre fin aux subventions à la pêche qui encouragent la surpêche et les pratiques de pêche destructrices dans le monde entier.