From Saving Seeds to Battling Shark Finning, Goldman Environmental Prize Honors 2010's Top Activists (Video)

goldman group photo

The 2010 Goldman Prize recipients / Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

Last night, the Goldman Environmental Prize announced the 2010 winners during an evening celebration. Six activists from across the globe were honored, and each has an incredible story. From battling CAFOs in rural Michigan to battling shark finning in Costa Rica, from protecting elephants from farmers in Cambodia to restoring seed diversity among farmers in Cuba, from changing the definition of conservation in Swaziland to changing the route of a freeway in Poland, each of the winners put their lives on the line - sometimes quite literally - to improve the lives of every living thing.

goldman son photo

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

Douglas E. Goldman, the son of prize founder Richard N. Goldman, opened the ceremony with a speech urging the audience to consider and engage in water conservation. He pointed out that the shortages we're facing are avoidable, the pollution we're causing is avoidable, and the deaths from water related illnesses are all avoidable. He encouraged the audience to practice water conservation - though interestingly enough he did not encourage them to become water advocates. The real areas where changes are needed are in business - from agriculture to manufacturing - and in regulation - from unrealistic pricing to importation. Goldman pointed out past prize winners who focused on water issues, and perhaps in the upcoming years, we'll see more winners who put water first.

The ceremony moved on to award each winner and share their stories.

goldman awards audience photo

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

This year's winners are:

Thuli Brilliance Makama, Swaziland

Thuli Makama, Swaziland's only public interest environmental attorney, won a landmark case to include environmental NGO representation in conservation decisions and continues to challenge the forced evictions and violence perpetrated against poverty-stricken communities living on the edges of conservation areas.

Tuy Sereivathana , Cambodia
Tuy Sereivathana worked to mitigate human elephant conflict in Cambodia by introducing innovative low-cost solutions, empowering local communities to cooperatively participate in endangered Asian elephant conservation.

Małgorzata Górska, Poland
Małgorzata Górska led the fight to protect Poland's Rospuda Valley, one of Europe's last true wilderness areas, from a controversial highway project that would have destroyed the region's sensitive ecosystems.

Humberto Ríos Labrada, Cuba
A scientist and biodiversity researcher, Humberto Ríos Labrada promoted sustainable agriculture by working with farmers to increase crop diversity and develop low-input agricultural systems that greatly reduce the need for pesticide and fertilizer, encouraging Cuba's shift from agricultural chemical dependence.

Lynn Henning, USA
Family farmer in rural Michigan, Lynn Henning exposed the egregious polluting practices of CAFOs -concentrated animal feeding operations- gaining the attention of the federal EPA and prompting state regulators to issue hundreds of citations for water quality violations.

Randall Arauz, Costa Rica
Drawing international attention to the inhumane and environmentally catastrophic shark finning industry, Randall Arauz led the campaign to halt the practice in Costa Rica, making his country the new international model for shark protection.

Here are videos detailing the projects to which each person has dedicated their lives.

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