The Goldman Environmental Foundation in San Francisco has announced the recipients of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, an annual award that recognizes grassroots environmental leaders from around the globe.
Launched in 1989, the program honors emerging leaders from each of the world's inhabited continental regions who are working to protect the environment and their communities. The prize, which includes a cash award of $175,000 for each winner, is the world's largest for grassroots environmental activism.
The 2016 recipients of the prize are Edward Loure of Tanzania, who helped pioneer an approach that gives land titles to indigenous communities instead of individuals, ensuring the collective stewardship of more than two hundred thousand acres in Tanzania; Leng Ouch of Cambodia, who went undercover to document illegal logging, in the process exposing the corruption that is robbing rural communities of their land and leading the government to cancel a number of large land concessions; Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, who spearheaded a successful campaign to shut down a toxic waste dump that was poisoning the land, air, and water in her community; Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera of Puerto Rico, who helped lead a successful campaign to establish a nature reserve in the island's Northeast Ecological Corridor, an important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle; twenty-year-old Destiny Watford of Baltimore, who inspired local residents to defeat plans to build the nation's largest incinerator less than a mile from her high school; and Máxima Acuña, a Peruvian subsistence farmer who stood up for her right to live off her own land — land that had been claimed by a mining company for a gold and copper mine.
"This is recognition and understanding of our struggle," Watford told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It shows that the work that we're doing matters."