Global environmental prize honours Wild Coast activists Global environmental prize honours Wild Coast activists
The Goldman Environmental Foundation announced seven recipients of the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s foremost award for grassroots environmental activists. Awarded annually to environmental... Global environmental prize honours Wild Coast activists

The Goldman Environmental Foundation announced seven recipients of the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s foremost award for grassroots environmental activists.

Awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions, the Goldman Environmental Prize honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists worldwide, inspiring us to protect our planet.

The Prize was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by philanthropists and civic leaders Rhoda and Richard Goldman. In 35 years, the Prize has had an immeasurable impact on the planet. The prize has honoured 226 winners—including 102 women—from 95 nations. Many have gone on to positions as government officials, heads of state, NGO leaders, and Nobel Prize laureates.

“These wonderful grassroots leaders refused to be complacent in the face of adversity or to be cowed by powerful corporations and governments,” said John Goldman, president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation. “Alone, their achievements across the world are impressive. Together, they are a collective force—and a growing global movement—that is breathtaking and full of hope. We are a global community from San Francisco to Sao Paulo to the Wild Coast of South Africa.”

Prize winners will be celebrated at an in-person ceremony in San Francisco on April 29. The ceremony will be hosted by Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp, with musical guest Jazz Mafia, and live-streamed on the Goldman Prize’s YouTube channel. A second ceremony will occur in Washington, DC, on May 1, hosted by science educator Danni Washington.

This year’s winners are:

Nonhle Mbuthuma and Sinegugu Zukulu, South Africa

In September 2022, Indigenous activists Nonhle Mbuthuma and Sinegugu Zukulu stopped destructive seismic testing for oil and gas off South Africa’s Eastern Cape in an area known as the Wild Coast. Organizing their community, Nonhle and Sinegugu secured their victory by asserting the rights of the local community to protect their marine environment. By halting oil and gas exploration in a particularly biodiverse area, they protected migratory whales, dolphins, and other wildlife from the harmful effects of seismic testing.

Alok Shukla, India

Alok Shukla led a successful community campaign that saved 445,000 acres of biodiversity-rich forests from 21 planned coal mines in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. In July 2022, the government cancelled the 21 proposed coal mines in Hasdeo Aranya, whose pristine forests—popularly known as the lungs of Chhattisgarh—are one of India’s largest intact forest areas.

Teresa Vicente, Spain

Teresa Vicente led a historic, grassroots campaign to save the Mar Menor ecosystem—Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon—from collapse. This campaign resulted in the passage of a new law in September 2022 granting the lagoon unique legal rights. Considered the most important saltwater coastal lagoon in the western Mediterranean, the once pristine waters of the Mar Menor had become polluted due to mining, rampant development of urban and tourist infrastructure, and, in recent years, intensive agriculture and livestock farming.

Murrawah Maroochy Johnson, Australia

Murrawah Maroochy Johnson blocked the development of the Waratah coal mine, which would have accelerated climate change in Queensland, destroyed the nearly 20,000-acre Bimblebox Nature Refuge, added 1.58 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere over its lifetime, and threatened Indigenous rights and culture. Murrawah’s case, which overcame a 2023 appeal, set a precedent that enables other First Nations people to challenge coal projects by linking climate change to human and Indigenous rights.

Andrea Vidaurre, United States

Andrea Vidaurre’s grassroots leadership persuaded the California Air Resources Board to adopt two historic transportation regulations in the spring of 2023 that significantly limit trucking and rail emissions. The new regulations—the In-Use Locomotive Rule and the California Advanced Clean Fleets Rule—include the nation’s first train emission rule and a path to 100% zero emissions for freight truck sales by 2036. The groundbreaking regulations—a product of Andrea’s policy work and community organizing—will substantially improve air quality for millions of Californians while accelerating the country’s transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Marcel Gomes, Brazil

Marcel Gomes coordinated a complex, international campaign that directly linked beef from JBS, the world’s largest meatpacking company, to illegal deforestation in Brazil’s most threatened ecosystems. Armed with detailed evidence from his breakthrough investigative report, Marcel worked with partners to pressure global retailers to stop selling illegally sourced meat, leading six major European supermarket chains in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to halt the sale of JBS products in December 2021 indefinitely.

Antoinette Panton

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