Goldman environmental prize 2014

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About the Prize?

The Goldman Prize continues today with its original mission to annually honour grassroots environmental heroes from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.

The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $150,000, the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists.

The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

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The Prize Recipients

The work of Goldman Prize recipients often focuses on protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainability, influencing environmental policies and striving for environmental justice. Prize recipients are often women and men from isolated villages or inner cities who chose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment.

What the Goldman Prize Provides its Recipient

The Goldman Prize amplifies the voices of these grassroots leaders and provides them with:

  • International recognition that enhances their credibility
  • Worldwide visibility for the issues they champion
  • Financial support of $175,000 to pursue their vision of a renewed and protected environment

Ramesh Agrawal at his home looking out to his internet cafe in Raigarh, India

Indian environment activist Ramesh Agrawal has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize – 2014

Agrawal (58) is being awarded for his work in blocking the efforts of Jindal Power and Steel to build a coal plant in his home state of Chhatisgarh, which could have tremendous adverse effects on the local environment.  He is the founder of Jan Chetana, an organization he created in 2005 to spearhead environmental efforts around the country.

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Agrawal’s efforts have inspired both intense support and harsh criticism from the local community, with some saying that a local plant would create jobs while others side with Agrawal’s attempts to preserve the ecosystem.

In 2012, Agrawal was violently attacked for his opposition to the coal factory. Agrawal was shot twice in the leg, with one bullet shattering his femur, causing him to have a permanent limp. Jindal Power and Steel denied involvement, but a Jindal security guard and three other associates were arrested in connection with the shooting.

Agrawal has also made extensive use of India’s Freedom of Information legislation, which allows the country’s citizens unprecedented access to laws and other resources that help them fight against corruption and other bureaucratic issues in an effort to improve the quality of life around the country.

He has led a number of successful lawsuits against large corporations involved in activities similar to Jindal Power and Steel, and has helped to empower environmental activists throughout India, who have faced growing violence over the last several years for their advocacy efforts.

The Goldman Environmental Foundation awards one person from each of six different geographic zones: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South/Central America.

Agrawal is the winner for all of Asia, and the other five winners for this year are:

Ruth Buendia (Peru),

Suren Gazaryan (Russia),

Helen Slottje (USA),

Desmond D’Sa (South Africa), 

Rudi Patra (Indonesia).

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