The winners of the 2021 “Green Nobel” Goldman Environmental Prize

June 25, 2021

The Goldman Environmental Prize, the “green Nobel Prize”, is awarded annually to activists fighting for the well-being of the planet. They’re often called “heroes”. But, foremost, they’re people. Common folk just like us. They don’t have superpowers or wear capes. And that’s what makes them so special. They’re the activists that are celebrated yearly by the Goldman Environmental Prize, also known as the “green Nobel Prize” [for more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/928A7FD2-4E3D-400E-BCE9-488658DA3BAF]

Goldman environmental prize

The winners of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, Malawi, Africa

Concerned about the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution in the southeast African state of Malawi, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto decided to fight against this industry by campaigning to stop the production of thin plastics, a type of single-use polymer. Thanks to her campaign a national ban was adopted in 2019. This is the first time a person from Malawi wins the Goldman Prize.

Goldman environmental prize
Gloria Majiga-Kamoto showing plastic under a bridge over the Mudi River © Goldman Environmental Prize

Thai Van Nguyen, Vietnam, Asia

Thai Van Nguyen is the founder of the NGO Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, responsible for saving 1,540 pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2020. Nguyen also instituted the first Vietnamese anti-poaching unit. Since 2018, it has destroyed 9,701 animal traps, torn down 775 illegal camps, confiscated 78 guns and brought to the arrest of 558 poachers, leading to a significant reduction in illegal activities in Pu Mat National Park.

Goldman environmental prize Thai Van Nguyen
Thai Van Nguyen with a three-month-old pangolin in a rehabilitation centre © Goldman Environmental Prize

Maida Bilal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe

Together with the women in her village, Maida Bilal mounted a 503-days-long protest to stop the construction of two new dams on the Kruščica River in December 2018. The Balkans are home to Europe’s last wild rivers, but demand for hydroelectric power is threatening these precious ecosystems. This marks the first time that a person from Bosnia and Herzegovina receives the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Goldman environmental prize Maida Bilal
Maida Bilal and her supporters on the bridge where they stopped construction of the dams from going ahead © Goldman Environmental Prize

Kimiko Hirata, Japan, islands and island nations

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan began relying on coal-based rather than nuclear energy. Kimiko Hirata’s decade-long campaign has stopped 13 new coal power plants from being built throughout the country. These would have released over 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 over their lifetimes. Therefore, Hirata’s efforts have avoided emissions equivalent to those of 7.5 million cars a year, for forty years.

Goldman environmental prize Kimiko Hirata
Kimiko Hirata in Tokyo, the capital of Japan © Goldman Environmental Prize

Sharon Lavigne, Unites States, North America

In September 2019, Sharon Lavigne, a special education teacher and climate justice advocate, succeeded in stopping the construction of an enormous plastic production plant in Mississippi, in the state of Louisiana. Lavigne mounted an opposition campaign, raised awareness in her community and organised peaceful protests to protect the right of her fellow citizens, especially African-Americans. The plant would have led to the release of huge amounts of toxic waste in an area where pollution is already destroying many lives.

Sharon Lavigne, Goldman Environmental Prize
Sharon Lavigne in the Buena Vista cemetery, where graves of African-American slaves are found © Goldman Environmental Prize

Liz Chicaje Churay, Peru, South and Central America

Thanks to Liz Chicaje Churay and her supporters, in January 2018 the Peruvian government created Yaguas National Park, which protects 800,000 hectares of the Amazon rainforest. The park is key to conserving local biodiversity as well as safeguarding thousands of unique species, carbon-rich peatlands and protecting indigenous peoples.

Liz Chicaje Churay
Liz Chicaje Churay on the Ampiyacu River © Goldman Environmental Prize

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/13/winners-of-the-2019-goldman-environmental-prize/

https://www.lifegate.com/goldman-environmental-prize-2021-winners

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