Six grassroots environmental leaders win worldwide visibility with Goldman prize

 In Environment, Philanthropy

2007 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners

Top row (left to right): Hammerskjoeld Simwinga of Zambia, Willie Corduff of Ireland, Orri Vigfússon of Iceland. Bottom row (left to right): Julio Cusurichi Palacios of Peru, Sophia Rabliauskas of Canada, Tsetsegee Munkhbayar of Mongolia

Yesterday evening in the San Francisco Opera House, the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony celebrated the achievements of six grassroots environmental leaders from around the world. Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman, founded the annual award in 1990 to recognize environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions and to amplify the voices of these grassroots leaders. The award winners receive worldwide visibility for the issues they champion and financial support of $125,000 to pursue their vision.

The six prize winners will also be honored at a smaller ceremony tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC.

This year’s winners are:

North America: Sophia Rabliauskas, 47, Canada: Working on behalf of the Poplar River First Nation, Rabliauskas succeeded in securing interim protection for a portion of the boreal forest of Manitoba, effectively preventing destructive logging and hydro-power development while calling on government and international agencies to permanently protect the region.

Africa: Hammerskjoeld Simwinga, 45, Zambia: In Zambia’s North Luangwa Valley, where rampant illegal wildlife poaching decimated the wild elephant population and left villagers living in extreme poverty, Simwinga created an innovative sustainable community development program that successfully restored wildlife and transformed this poverty-stricken area.

Asia: Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, 40, Mongolia: Munkhbayar successfully worked with government and grassroots organizations to shut down destructive mining operations along Mongolia’s scarce waterways. Through public education and political lobbying, Munkhbayar has effectively protected Mongolia’s precious water resources from additional unregulated mining.

South & Central America: Julio Cusurichi Palacios, 36, Peru: In the remote Peruvian Amazon, Cusurichi secured a national reserve to protect both sensitive rain forest ecosystems and the rights of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation from the devastating effects of logging and mining.

Europe: Willie Corduff, 53, Ireland: In the small farming community of Rossport, Corduff and a group of fellow local residents and landowners successfully forced Shell Oil to halt construction on an illegally-approved pipeline through their land.

Islands & Island Nations: Orri Vigfússon, 64, Iceland: With business savvy and an unwavering commitment to reverse the near-extinction of wild North Atlantic salmon, Vigfússon brokered huge international fishing rights buyouts with governments and commercial interests, helping bring to an end destructive commercial salmon fishing in the region.

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