Monday, April 14, 2008

Congratulations to the 2008 Goldman Award Winners!

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1990 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 126 people from 72 countries - - we were honored to attend this evening and learn about these wonderful people who deserve this award, and so much more!
This year's Goldman Award winners:
Pablo Fajardo Mendoza, 35, and Luis Yanza, 46, Ecuador:
In the Ecuadorian Amazon, Fajardo and Yanza lead one of the largest environmental legal battles in history against oil giant Chevron, demanding justice for the massive petroleum pollution in the region.
Two very brave individuals just trying to help their communities bounce back from years of pollution and neglect by demanding that big oil help take some of its massive profits to clean up the mess caused over a period of decades. This issue runs through the heart of the Amazon, but touches all of us on planet earth.

Feliciano dos Santos, 43, Mozambique:
Using traditional music, grassroots outreach and innovative technology to bring sanitation to the most remote corners of Mozambique, Feliciano dos Santos empowers villagers to participate in sustainable development and rise up from poverty.

Providing simple, sustainable methods for villages to battle against water-born disease and to educate people toward healthier, happier lives, Feliciano uses music and his sense of humor to make a real difference for Mozambique - with lessons to be shared all over the developing world.

Rosa Hilda Ramos, 63, Puerto Rico:
In the shadow of polluting factories in Cataño, a city across the bay from San Juan, Ramos leads her community to permanently protect the Las Cucharillas Marsh, one of the last open spaces in the area and one of the largest wetlands ecosystems in the region.

Wetlands are our most precious resource, not only for migratory birds, fish and wildlife, but for purifying water and creating oxygen. Rosa is tenacious in her pursuit to keep development out of the wetlands in her area of Puerto Rico and her positive attitude is absolutely contagious!

Jesús León Santos, 42, Mexico:
In Oaxaca, where unsustainable land-use practices have made it one of the world's most highly-eroded areas, León leads a land renewal program that employs ancient indigenous practices to transform depleted soil into arable land.

Jesus built a coalition of local and regional farmers to plant over 2 million trees in his area of Oaxaca. The trees have brought wildlife back to the area, have replenished the soil and have also revived creeks and streams that are the life blood for any farming community. Most of all, Jesus educates farmers on maintaining their indigenous seed stores, promoting bio-diversity and sustainable farming practices and taking a real stand against genetically modified seeds and crops.

Marina Rikhvanova, 46, Russia:
As Russia expands its petroleum and nuclear interests, Rikhvanova works to protect Siberia's Lake Baikal, one of the world's most important sources of fresh water, from environmental devastation brought on by these polluting industries.

Marina uses her voice to go head-to-head against some of the most powerful people and organizations in the world, to save one of the worlds greatest lakes from having an oil pipeline running nearby. Hard to imagine that activism is alive and well in the former Soviet Union, but Marina has proved that with hard work and determination, it is possible to not only get the attention of authorities, but to change their ill-thought direction. We pray for Marina's son who has been imprisoned because of their next protest against a planned Uranium enrichment plant, and paper mill that threaten the lake even more.

Ignace Schops, 43, Belgium:
Raising more than $90 million by bringing together private industry, regional governments, and local stakeholders, Schops led the effort to establish Belgium's first and only national park, protecting one of the largest open green spaces in the country.

Ignace was inspired by the creation of Yosemite National Park, during the height of the industrial revolution in our country. Understanding that it would not be easy or simple, Ignace raised awareness and serious capital to create open space, by designing an inclusive program that brought diverse groups in as "environmental investors" - where the return is positive and healthy for everyone.

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1 comment:

Cristina Foung said...

I was actually lucky enough to be invited to the prize ceremony. It was incredibly moving and inspirational. If you're interested, I took a few videos of the 2008 Goldman Prize winners' speeches. They're not exactly perfect in terms of cinematography but it's kind of nice to see the winners accepting their awards.