Apr 27, 2023
Thought Question: What actions can individuals take to help protect the environment, and how can we follow the example of people who have made a positive impact in their communities and the world?
Much of the news about the environment is about things getting worse. It can be easy to forget that many people are making positive changes to address the problems. The Goldman Environmental Foundation (GEF) celebrates difference-makers with its annual Prize.
The GEF seeks to honor people who worked to protect the environment. For many, the efforts came with "great personal risk,” the GEF notes on its website.
GEF awards six prizes per year. One person is selected for each region of the world. Here are 2023’s winners:
Diane Wilson, North America: The 74-year-old led efforts to reduce pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. She did so by suing Formosa Plastics. It agreed to pay $50 million toward cleanup of the Texas coastline. That's the largest settlement ever under the US Clean Water Act.
Chilekwa Mumba, Africa: The 38-year-old campaigned in his native Zambia to hold a British mining corporation responsible for its toxic runoff. The runoff had poisoned local water supplies.
Zafir Kizilkaya, Asia: The 53-year-old pushed for added protections along 310 miles of Turkey’s coastline. The measures safeguard against illegal fishing and the effects of climate change.
Tero Mustonen, Europe: The 46-year-old has led efforts to restore 62 former peat mining sites in Finland. The sites have been transformed into protected forests.
Alessandra Korap Munduruku, South and Central America: The 38-year-old is a member of the Sawré Muybu. They are an Indigenous group in Brazil. She spoke out to protect key areas of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest from mining development. That's because mining companies sometimes push Indigenous people off their homelands.
Delima Silalahi, Islands and Island Nations: The 46-year-old reclaimed 17,824 acres of tropical forest in North Sumatra. The land was reclaimed from a paper company. It has been reserved for Indigenous groups.
Photo from Reuters.