2009 Goldman Environmental Prize Honors Grassroots Leaders
A Saramakan village meeting in Suriname / credit: Will Parinello
The Goldman Environmental Prize may not get the same coverage as some more famous awards, but its recipients are no less influential—in fact, many of them go on to elected office (or to Nobel Prize honors, like 1991 Goldman winner Wangari Matthai). This year’s honorees, announced this morning, include anti-mining activists from West Africa and West Virginia; a Russian scientist who’s cracking down on toxic chemical stockpiles; and an environmental attorney from Bangladesh, among others.For 20 years, the award has highlighted grassroots leaders working on the environmental problems in their own neighborhoods. 2009 winners include Maria Gunnoe of West Virginia, who’s fighting the coal industry's mountaintop removal mining; Marc Ona of Gabon, who brought to light an illegal Chinese mining operation in West African rainforests; Rizwana Hasan of Bangladesh, whose efforts led to government regulation of ship breaking; Olga Speranskaya, of Moscow, who inspired the NGOs in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus to find and get rid of chemical stockpiles; Yuyun Ismawati of Indonesia, who has developed sustainable solutions for employment and environmental stewardship in the country; and Wanze Eduards and Hugo Jabini of Suriname, whose work against logging resulted in a ruling that gives tribal and indigenous people the power to stop the exploitation of resources on their land.
Two ceremonies this week—one in San Francisco and one in Washington, D.C.—will honor the winners with $150,000 cash prizes; check TreeHugger throughout the week for reports from the events’ green carpet and more about each of the winners.
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