Goldman environmental prize awarded amid murders, violence against activists
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Congolese park ranger, a Guatemalan indigenous land rights activist and an octogenarian Australian who blocked a coal mining firm from taking her family’s farm were among the six winners of one of the world’s most prestigious environmental prizes on Monday.
Announced in San Francisco, the 2017 Goldman Prize Environmental Prize worth $175,000 to each winner comes as violence against land rights campaigners continues to rise globally.
The prize committee is looking at ways to improve safety for the winners so they can continue their campaigns, she said.
Some of this year’s prize winners say danger is part of life for environmental campaigners.
Another winner, Rodrigo Tot, a land rights campaigner and community leader of Guatemala’s indigenous Q’eqchi people, said one of his sons was murdered because of his activism.
Tot has led campaigns to protect indigenous land from government and foreign mining companies seeking to tap into the nickel deposits in central Guatemala.
We don’t want our resources to be polluted," Tot said.
But the fight continues.
Australian family farmer Wendy Bowman, a co-winner of the prize, is known for her successful fight to stop coal mining expansion that she says causes air and water pollution.
She stopped Yancoal, a Chinese-owned mining company, from taking her family farm and has refused to sell her land to the company, the prize committee said.