Green Nobel Prize 2021

The prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, also known as the “Green Nobel Prize” will be awarded today to six environmental activists, one from each of the world’s inhabited continents.

This year’s winners include a special education teacher whose activism stopped the construction of a billion-dollar plastics manufacturing plant along the Mississippi River; a woman whose efforts led to the creation of a national park in Peru the size of Yellowstone; a community leader whose organizing and 500-day blockade of heavy equipment stopped the construction of two dams in the Balkans; an activist who helped cancel 13 coal power plants in Japan and is the first female prize winner from Japan; a man who has dedicated his life to rescuing endangered pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade and ending poaching; and a woman who fought for a national ban on thin plastics manufacturing in Malawi.

“When it comes to the environment, the global community of grassroots activists, leaders, thinkers, and philanthropists is only growing and becoming more sophisticated, more united, more powerful,” Susie Gelman, vice president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation, said in a press release.

“These Prize winners have so much to teach us about the path forward and how to maintain the balance with nature that is key to our survival,” Gelman said. “They have not been silenced — despite great risks and personal hardship — and we must also not be silent, either. It takes all of us.”

The winners of the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize:

Sharon Lavigne, United States

Sharon Lavigne’s activism stopped the construction of a billion-dollar plastics manufacturing plant alongside the Mississippi River in Lousiana’s notorious “cancer alley.” Image courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, Malawi

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto’s activism resulted in a ban on the production, importation, distribution, and use of thin plastics in Malawi. Here, she stands in front of plastic pollution at the Mudi River bridge. Image courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Liz Chicaje Churay, Peru

Liz Chicaje Churay is an Indigenous leader whose activism helped to create the Yaguas National Park, protecting an area the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Image courtesy of the Goldman Prize.

Thai Van Nguyen, Vietnam

Thai Van Nguyen has dedicated his life to protecting critically endangered pangolins in Vietnam. Here, he holds a Sunda pangolin at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program. Photo by Suzi Eszterhas.

Maida Bilal, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Maida Bilal took part in a 500-day blockade and organized the community to stop dam construction on one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe. Image courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Kimiko Hirata, Japan

Kimiko Hirata’s activism resulted in the cancellation of 13 planned coal plants. Image courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.