The 2023 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners Show the World What Social Responsibility Looks Like
She sleeps nights away from her family in a small office to educate her community on ways to protect the forest. He risks his life wading into rhino and alligator-inhabited rivers to collect polluted water samples. She spends her days kayaking near a plastics factory to patrol their plastic waste. He collaborates tirelessly to gain local fishermen’s trust and help them rebuild marine life in their overfished bay.
Who are they?
They are ordinary people, doing extraordinary things for our planet.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is an annual prize awarded to grassroots environmentalists around the world who are doing extraordinary work to heal the globe. Its founders, Rhonda and Richard Goldman, created the award to highlight the powerful effects that occur when individuals embrace their environmental and social responsibility. They believed that by highlighting ordinary people doing extraordinary work, other individuals would be inspired to act in small and powerful ways to protect the planet.
This year’s six winners come from Brazil, Indonesia, Finland, Turkey, Africa, and America. What inspired us the most in this year’s awards is that nearly every winner went toe-to-toe with huge corporations. In a time where it feels like the world is being indiscriminately poisoned by a small number of massive corporations, we need to see that it’s possible for individuals to collectively raise their voices and say, “REMEMBER US? We’re here, we matter, the planet matters. Enough is enough.” Seeing these individuals and communities demanding that industry BACK DOWN reminds us that individual action does matter and we can make a difference when we organize, act, and increase our own knowledge.
We hope you are inspired by these stories. We all can feel what these awardees felt – overwhelmed, alone, hopeless. Each winner faced seemingly impossible hurdles. Each winner faced the daily reality that their work might yield nothing. But they didn’t give up because they believed in the possibility of a healthy world.
Here are these ordinary, extraordinary people’s stories.
A Zambian local who goes up against a UK-owned copper mine to sue for damages to local villages – and wins.
An indigenous woman rallies together communities in the state of Para, Brazil to fight a land-rights battle with one of the world’s largest mining companies – and wins a historic victory.
A Finnish fisherman who restores nearly 130,000 acres of peatland – one of the most powerful carbon sinks on the planet.
A lifelong shrimper and fisherwoman gathers evidence for 30 years to win the largest citizen lawsuit against an industrial polluter in Clean Water Act’s history.
Deep-sea diver and underwater photographer collaborates with local fishermen and government to expand marine protected areas by 310 miles in Turkey’s Gökova Bay.
NGO director saves 17,000 acres of tropical forest from a pulp and paper company, legally restoring the land to indigenous protection.
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