Father Edwin Gariguez, a Catholic priest and mining activist from the Philippines, has been awarded the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize. The prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize was bestowed on the priest for his work that lead to the halting of a Norwegian-owned nickel mine on Mindoro Island in the Philippines.
Gariguez worked for over a decade to create a diverse, grassroots coalition that consisted of indigenous communities, farmers, students, religious leaders, and elected officials to oppose the giant nickel mine proposed by Intex. The mine would have been the size of over 1,000 football fields and threatened the indigenous population, two key biodiversity areas, and one of Mindoro's major watersheds which feeds rivers, and provides drinking water and irrigation to lowland communities.
The coalition's efforts culminated in an 11-day hunger strike at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources where they made it clear they were willing to die if their demands were not met. The government responded by launching an investigation into the mine's environmental and social violations, which in turn lead to DERN revoking Intex's permit to mine.
Watch the Goldman Environmental Prize Profile of Fr. Gariguez
The Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 23rd year, is the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists. Six winners from around the world's six inhabited continental regions are awarded $150,000 for their work in protecting the environment.