Now in its thirtieth year, the prize honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots activists from each of the world's six inhabited continental regions. The prize, which includes a cash award, provides grassroots leaders with a platform that enhances their credibility and the global visibility for their causes, as well as the financial support needed to pursue their vision of a protected and renewed environment.
This year's recipients include Bayarjargal Agvaantseren of Mongolia, a former teacher and tour guide who helped create the 1.8 million-acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve in the South Gobi Desert, a critical habitat for the vulnerable snow leopard; and Alfred Brownell of Liberia, an environmental lawyer who, under threat of violence (he is temporarily living in exile in the United States), stopped the clear-cutting of tropical forests by palm oil plantation developers, protecting primary forest that constitutes one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots.
The other winners are Ana Colovic Lesoska of North Macedonia, who led a seven-year campaign to cut off international funding for two hydropower plants planned inside Mavrovo National Park, protecting the habitat of the nearly extinct Balkan lynx; Alberto Curamil of Chile, who has been jailed since 2018 and, before his detention, organized his Mapuche community to stop two hydroelectric projects on the Cautín River that would have harmed a critical ecosystem and exacerbated drought conditions; Jacqueline Evans of the Cook Islands, whose campaign to protect the islands' marine biodiversity led to new legislation to sustainably manage and conserve all of that country's ocean territory; and Linda Garcia of the United States, who organized local residents to stop construction of the Tesoro Savage oil export terminal in Vancouver, Washington, halting the flow of eleven million gallons of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Washington.
"Thirty years ago, when Richard and Rhoda Goldman started the Goldman Environmental Prize, the idea of celebrating grassroots environmentalists was a novel one," said former U.S. vice president Al Gore. "Today, thanks in large part to the Goldmans, the world recognizes just how important it is to honor and illuminate those who have shown courage in the face of environmental destruction. Their efforts inspire all of us to protect our fragile planet Earth for future generations. I was fortunate to count Richard and Rhoda as good friends. Their legacy is global and profound. I proudly toast the Goldman family on this thirtieth anniversary of the prize."
(Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Foundation)