India’s Ramesh Agrawal received the prize for helping villagers fight a large coal mine in Chhattisgarh state, the San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation said Monday. Peru’s Ruth Buendia was recognized for helping to prevent construction of two large dams that would have displaced nearly 10,000 indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, and Russian zoologist Suren Gazaryan won for defending protected areas around Sochi from illegal land seizures for Olympic construction projects, it said.
American lawyer Helen Slottje received the award for helping communities fight fracking in New York State by discovering a legal loophole that allows individual towns to ban the oil extraction method under zoning laws. South Africa’s Desmond D’Sa won for helping to close down one of the country’s largest toxic waste dumps, and Indonesian biologist Rudi Putra helped shutter 26 illegal palm oil plantations that were causing deforestation in northern Sumatra.
“From fracking to palm oil development, the 2014 Goldman Prize recipients are not only tackling some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems; they are also achieving impressive environmental victories and inspiring others to do the same,” foundation executive director David Gordon said in a statement.
The winners are to receive $175,000 at a ceremony Monday evening at the San Francisco Opera House — an increase from the $150,000 given to previous recipients, the foundation said. The award was launched in 1990 with a grant from philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman to honor grass-roots environmental activists in the six regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, Island Nations, North America and Latin America.