Monday, April 14, 2008

Goldman Environmental Prizes

Here are the winners of the 2008 Goldman Prize: (I'll have more to say tomorrow, after the big celebration).

North America
Jesús León Santos, 42, Mexico: In Oaxaca, where unsustainable land-use practices have made it one of the world’s most highly-eroded areas, León initiated a land renewal program that employs ancient indigenous practices to transform depleted soil into arable land.

Feliciano dos Santos, 43, Mozambique: Using traditional music, grassroots outreach and innovative technology to bring sanitation to the most remote corners of Mozambique, Santos empowered villagers to participate in sustainable development and rise up from poverty.

Marina Rikhvanova, 46, Russia: As Russia expands its petroleum and nuclear interests, Rikhvanova campaigned to protect Siberia’s Lake Baikal, one of the world’s most important bodies of fresh water, from environmental devastation brought on by these polluting industries.

South & Central America
Pablo Fajardo Mendoza and Luis Yanza, 35 & 48, Ecuador: In the Ecuadorian Amazon, Fajardo and Yanza led one of the largest environmental legal battles in history against oil giant Chevron, demanding justice for the massive petroleum pollution in the region.

Ignace Schops, 43, Belgium: Belgium Raising more than $90 million by bringing together private industry, regional governments, and local stakeholders, Schops led the effort to establish Belgium’s first and only national park, protecting one of the largest open green spaces in the country.

Islands & Island Nations
Rosa Hilda Ramos, 63, Puerto Rico: In the shadow of polluting factories in Cataño, Ramos led the movement to permanently protect the Las Cucharillas Marsh, one of the last open spaces in the area and one of the largest wetlands ecosystems in the region.

One note of note - this is the first time I've seen a story of philanthropically-supported prize winners run in the paper on the same day as an announcement of corporate unhappiness about said prize winners. From Matier & Ross in Sunday's SF Chronicle:

Prize fight: No sooner did the curtain drop on San Francisco's Olympic torch run controversy than the city became the backdrop for another global flareup, this time involving homegrown Chevron Corp. and the eco-politics of oil drilling in the Amazon.

It's all being ignited by San Francisco's Goldman Foundation's announcement today that the organization is awarding one of its prestigious environmental prizes this year to Pablo Fajardo and his associate Luis Yanza.

Fajardo is a former Ecuadoran farm laborer who rose to take over as a lead attorney in a nearly 2-decade-old fight to force Chevron-acquired Texaco Inc. to pay billions of dollars to clean up 1,700 square miles of rain forest polluted by years of drilling and the dumping of oily wastewater. Yanza is a fellow community leader in the cause.

Once San Ramon's Chevron got wind of the Goldman Foundation selections, the oil giant began gearing up for a full-scale media counterattack charging that the charity founded by philanthropist and former San Francisco Protocol Director Richard Goldman had been "sadly misled" in honoring the Ecuadoran pair. Chevron says most of the pollution has happened under Ecuador's own government-run oil company, which took over drilling in 1990.

Chevron enlisted high-priced San Francisco PR crisis manager Sam Singer to push its assertion that the company is the victim of trumped-up charges and greedy lawyers. On Friday, it sent a letter to Goldman accusing Fajardo and his supporters of being "dishonest and duplicitous in their campaign" against Chevron.

On Tuesday, Chevron plans to roll out a full-page ad in The Chronicle - the start of a nationwide campaign that will also feature ads in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

1 comment:

Cristina Foung said...

I actually got to go to the Goldman Prize ceremony also. It was an incredibly moving event. And to be quite honest, I'm more inclined to believe the Goldman panel of judges than Chevron. But anyway, if you're interested, here is a wiki that has video clips of the 2008 Goldman winner speeches.