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Features

2002 Goldman Prizes awarded

Goldman Environmental Prize winners

Three North American tribal leaders who have defended the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling, a Muslim woman who saved war-torn Somalia from the devastation of logging by charcoal exporters, and a Polish conservationist who is fighting to save Poland's family farms were among the eight recipients of the 13th annual Goldman Environmental Prize presented in San Francisco on April 22.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is given annually to six grassroots environmental heroes from Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. (Three winners shared the North American prize this year.) The Prize includes a no-strings-attached award of $125,000. This year's winners are:

Fatima Jibrell, Somalia
A Somali woman who faces wars, harassment, and the current severe drought while working to build peace and promote careful use of fragile environmental resources in her country, Jibrell saved the northeast region of Somalia from the massive logging of old-growth acacia trees by persuading the regional government to create and enforce a ban on exports of charcoal to the Gulf States.

Pisit Charnsnoh, Thailand
An ecologist who works with fishers to protect and restore Thailand's coastal ecosystems devastated by industrial fishing and increased logging, Charnsnoh, a Buddhist, overcame cultural and religious differences to work with disadvantaged Muslim fishers. His work has brought government acceptance to local management of environmental resources.

Jadwiga Lopata, Poland
Lopata uses ecotourism to preserve and promote Poland's traditional family farms. In a country with almost no protected open space, small farms are the only habitat for a rich variety of species. Lopata created an eco-tourism program to spread the word about the environmental, economic and health advantages of sustainable farming. As Poland prepares to join the European Union, she is lobbying the government to reject the EU's system of expensive subsidies that foster large-scale factory farms.

Alexis Massol-González, Puerto Rico
An entrepreneur who led his community in a successful fight to convert a mining zone into Puerto Rico's first community-managed forest reserve, Massol-González convinced the Puerto Rican government to create the highly successful Bosque del Pueblo (People's Forest), the island's first community-managed forest reserve.

Jonathon Solomon, Sarah James and Norma Kassi, United States and Canada
Solomon, James, and Kassi are Gwich'in tribal leaders who successfully defended the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. (See page 20, this issue, and page 48, Summer 2002 EIJ.) The Bush administration wants to open the refuge for drilling despite estimates that it will only supply six months of oil and devastate the Porcupine caribou herd that has sustained Gwich'in culture for 20,000 years.

Jean La Rose, Guyana
An indigenous Guyanese woman who has overcome harassment to protect Amerindian lands from mining, La Rose and the Amerindian Peoples Association have filed Guyana's first-ever indigenous land rights lawsuit, hoping to annul all mining concessions in their tribal region. Despite the harassment, La Rose continues her fight for Amerindian rights and to end the destructive mining practices that have devastated Guyana's rainforests and the health of its many indigenous communities.

Vision and Courage

"This year's winners exemplify how much can be accomplished by visionary leaders who have the courage to struggle for sustainable development for their communities and for the health of the planet," said Richard N. Goldman, founder of the Goldman Environmental Prize. "They are an inspiration to the thousands of everyday environmental heroes across the globe who are working with - not fighting - nature."

Seventy-nine previous winners have overcome long odds to successfully protect the health and safety of their countries and communities from destructive government projects, multinational corporations, corrupt leaders, international financial institutions and even the destruction of war. The Goldman Environmental Prize allows these individuals to continue winning environmental victories and inspire ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the world.

Goldman Environmental Prize winners have also joined together to build a global community of grassroots leaders. In November 2001, 41 Prize winners signed a New York Times advertisement addressed to Mexican President Vicente Fox asking for the release of imprisoned fellow Prize winner Rodolfo Montiel. One week later, the President honored their request. In August 2002, a delegation of Prize winners will attend the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

   

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