With my hero to celebrate our heroes! 🙌🏾🌍 Each year, the Goldman Environmental Prize honors environmentalists from six regions of the globe who courageously take action, lead grassroots movements, build activist momentum, organize communities, champion conservation and protect vulnerable peoples, species, resources and habitats from unprecedented, accelerated degradation and destruction — and therein give myself, my mother, all of us hope.
We gathered to celebrate (and be hugely inspired by) this year’s Prize winners who prove that people and nature can coexist, persevering against all odds, often in the face of unimaginable adversity, serious threats, physical violence, political pressure, even wrongful arrest. Alongside Al Gore, Alexandra Cousteau, and Michael Franti and Spearhead, environmental luminaries, dear friends, respected allies and youth activists united to welcome six remarkable individuals to a lauded legacy of 194 recipients from 89 different nations over the past thirty years: Alfred Brownell, a Liberian environmental and human rights lawyer who fought to stop the eradication of native forests in the name of destructive palm oil plantations, now living in temporary forced exile in Boston; Bayarjargal Agvaantseren, a Mongolian conservationist who worked tirelessly to protect massive swaths of land in the mountains, home to herders and habitat of beloved snow leopards; Ana Colovic Lesoska, a biologist from North Macedonia who organized successfully to stop the construction of hydropower plants within a natural park that would threaten the rare Balkan lynx; Jacqueline Evans, a marine conservationist from the Cook Islands who campaigned for years to protect rich marine biodiversity and sacred waters from destructive commercial activities; Linda Garcia, an environmental activist from the United States who rose up to stop the construction of what would have been the largest oil terminal in North America and safeguard public health and community safety; and Alberto Curamíl, an indigenous Mapuche leader from Chile who led a movement to protect sacred rivers and lands from two proposed hydroelectric projects with damning ecological impact.
As Belén, the powerhouse 18-year-old daughter of Alberto, said while accepting the award for her father who is currently in Chilean prison for his environmental activism, “Pero seguimos vivo. Otro mundo es posible.” But we are still here. Another world is possible!