A Vietnam veteran battling to ensure safe disposal of U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles, the Liberian who exposed the illegal logging that funded war in his country, and the Brazilian behind the creation of the world's largest area of protected tropical rainforest are among the winners of this year's prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize
'These six winners are among the most important people you have not heard of before," said Goldman Prize founder Richard Goldman. "All of them have fought, often alone and at great personal risk, to protect the environment in their home countries. Their incredible achievements are an inspiration to all of us." The $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 17th year, is awarded annually to six grassroots environmental heroes and is the largest award of its kind in the world.
The 2006 Goldman Environmental Prize winners are:
North America: Craig E. Williams, 58, Kentucky: Williams convinced the Pentagon to stop plans to incinerate old chemical weapons stockpiled around the United States and has built a nationwide grassroots coalition to lobby for safer disposal solutions.
Africa: Silas Kpanan'Ayoung Siakor, 36, Liberia: Siakor exposed evidence that former Liberia President Charles Taylor used profits of unchecked, rampant logging to pay the costs of a brutal 14 year war.
Asia: Yu Xiaogang, 55, China: Yu spent years creating groundbreaking watershed management programs while researching and documenting the socioeconomic impact of dams on Chinese communities. His reports are considered a primary reason that the central government paid additional restitution to villagers displaced by existing dams and now considers social impact assessments for major dam developments.
South and Central America: Tarcísio Feitosa da Silva, 35, Brazil: Feitosa led efforts to create the world's largest area of protected tropical forest regions in a remote, lawless region in northern Brazil threatened by illegal logging. Despite death threats, Feitosa worked with local organizations to create protected lands for local residents and exposed illegal logging activities to the Brazilian government.
Europe: Olya Melen, 26, Ukraine: Melen, a lawyer, used legal channels to temporarily halt construction of a massive canal that would have cut through the heart of the Danube Delta, one of the world’s most valuable wetlands.
Islands and Island Nations: Anne Kajir, 32, Papua New Guinea: Kajir uncovered evidence of widespread corruption and complicity in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government, which allowed rampant, illegal logging that is destroying the largest remaining intact block of tropical forest in the Asia Pacific region.
For more information and photos of the Goldman Prize winners, visit: http://goldmanprize.org/