What do individuals who fought a water privatization project in Ghana, campaigned to protect the environment and people of the Republic of Georgia from a major oil pipeline, sought justice for an industrial disaster that killed 20,000 people, and battled a Louisiana chemical plant spewing toxic fumes have in common? They are the 2004 winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, which honors the work of grassroots environmental activists from around the world
Last week the San Francisco-based Goldman Foundation announced this year’s winners of its prestigious prize. The 2004 winners are: Margie Richard, of Norco, La.; Manana Kochladze, of the Republic of Georgia; Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho, of East Timor; Libia Rosario Grueso Castelblanco, of Colombia; Rudolf N. Amenga-Etego of Ghana; and Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla of Bhopal, India.
Experts say this year’s winners illustrate the strength of the global environmental movement. Often facing powerful foes, community activists are forcing corporations and governments to reconsider how their activities affect communities and the environment.
Richard Goldman, whose foundation created the environmental prize in 1990, said the awards help activists gain credibility in their home countries and often bring protection from repressive regimes.