Goldman Environmental Prizes awarded In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Six environmental activists from around the world received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco and their accomplishments were as varied as their backgrounds.

At an age when most teenagers are planning for proms and football games, Destiny Watford was planning something more important -- a movement to block what would have been the nation's largest trash incinerator near her home in Baltimore. Watford says she and her friends were studying human rights when they decided that conditions in their heavily industrialized neighborhood weren't fair.

"Especially this human right of believing that everyone has the right to live in a healthy community and breathe clean air," said Watford.

For Luis Jorge Rivera-Herrera, the struggle was to keep one of the most bio-diverse areas in Puerto Rico safe from pollution and development. The island's northeast corridor is a nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle. Rivera-Herrera said developers were pushing two mega-resorts, which could have altered the landscape dramatically.

"One of the projects, this mega-resort, they were even proposing to channelize one of the rivers," explained Rivera-Herrera.

For public interest lawyer Zuzana Caputova, shutting down a toxic waste dump in her home city in Slovakia was a family affair. Beyond rallying support in the community, she also involved her own daughters, 12 and 15 years old.

"They were participating in the protests, they were living my life, " she said.

For Edward Loure, it wasn't just the future of his family, but their way of life at stake. Loure pioneered a system in Tanzania to give ownership title for lands to entire indigenous communities instead of individuals. He said his approach protects the communal lifestyle and their ability to live off their lands for future generations. But the sudden recognition still took him by surprise.

"I was too much happy. All of a sudden I had the Goldman Prize," said a smiling Loure.

There were two more winners -- Leng Ouch from Cambodia and Maxima Acuna from Peru. Both of their struggles involved protecting rural lands from development such as logging and mining.

Written and produced by Tim Didion
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