Ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference

Have you ever heard of the Goldman Environmental Prize? Well, if you have not, then you are not the only one, I have only come to know about it myself some time back. I think it is a pity that such a beautiful initiative does not receive the publicity it deserves, and that is why I would like to dedicate my today’s post to it.

The Goldman Prize has been awarded annually since 1990 to six courageous environmental activists from Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America for their laudable work in different fields of action, such as protection of Wildlife & Endangered Species, Rivers & Dams, Sustainable Development, Toxic & Nuclear Contamination or Forests. The candidates are nominated by renowned environmental organizations and a group of well-known experts and selected by a 7-member jury. After receiving the prize, they get an international recognition and also have an opportunity to meet important policymakers at the prize ceremony to discuss the issues of their interest with them, which often helps in promoting their work.

Having gone through the list of 150+ laureates, I feel quite ashamed that I only know Wangari Maathai from Kenya and Medha Patkar from India. How about you? How many people from your country or region do you know? I often ask myself, why people set famous stars as their role models, instead of ordinary people who have done so much more for the well-being of the society and the planet. I think that it is worthwhile to go through the list to see what these heroic people who often risked their lives have achieved in the domain of nature conservation.

The recipients of the 2014 award include a South African advocate against toxic waste dumping ground, an Indian founder of a grassroots movement who engaged a village community in efforts to shut down a coal mine, a Russian zoologist who fights for conservation of Western Caucasus against infrastracture building, an Indonesian biologist enganged in combat against illegal deforestation for palm oil plantations, American lawyer who is helping communities defend from oil and gas fracking by passing local bills and a Peruvian leader of an indigenous organization advocating for the land rights.

This unique award sends across an imporant message that „ordinary“ people can make extraordinary difference. So, have a look at the prizewinners, subscribe to a newsletter or read the blog and most importantly REJOICE! 🙂

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