Goldman Environmental Prize Winners

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Eight people were awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize last week in San Francisco, California. The Goldman Environmental prize is the world's largest award honoring environmental activists.

The Goldman award is given every year to environmental heroes from each of the world's six continents. Prize winners receive one-hundred-twenty-five-thousand dollars. Many of this year's winners faced great risks to protect their environment.

Yosepha Alomang of West Papua, Indonesia was one of the winners. She organized resistance to the world's largest gold mining company. She accused the company of destroying mountains, rivers, rainforests and native cultures. Mizz Alomang continues to peacefully organize native communities seeking protection of traditional lands.

Two television reporters in the American state of Florida also won the Goldman prize. Jane Akre and Steve Wilson tried to report on the possible health risks to people caused by a hormone fed to cows. R-G-B-H is banned in most other industrial nations. The television station refused to broadcast the report and dismissed Mizz Akre and Mr. Wilson from their jobs.

Eugene Rutagarama of Rwanda was another winner. He fought to save the country's endangered mountain gorillas during ethnic wars in the nineteen-nineties. Mr. Rutagarama helped rebuild Rwanda's national parks to protect the gorillas' environment. It was threatened by millions of people who were resettled by the government after the wars.

Bolivian worker Oscar Olivera also won the Goldman prize. He led a coalition to protest the government's sale of the public water system in one of Bolivia's largest cities to an American company. The protests and negotiations forced the Bolivian government to cancel its sale.

Greek scientists Giorgos Catsadorakis and Myrsini Malakou also received the prize. They led an effort to create community programs to help protect Greece's Prespa wetlands. Their work led Greece, Albania and Macedonia to create a joint protected area.

The final winner was Bruno Van Peteghem of the South Pacific islands. He worked to protect one of the world's largest coral reefs. The reef in New Caledonia was threatened by mining companies. Mr. Van Peteghem is leading a campaign to place the reef on the World Heritage list and guarantee its permanent protection.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English