Marcel Gomes

Brazilian journalist Marcel Gomes is one of the seven winners of the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize.

(Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize)

Seven 'Incredible' Earth Defenders Honored With Goldman Environmental Prize

One winner said the award "signifies an international recognition that we are facing a new stage in humanity," one in which "human beings understand they are part of nature."

Activists who blocked fossil fuel development, protected vulnerable ecosystems, and helped enact clean air regulations are among the seven winners of this year's prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

The San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation announced Monday that the winners of the 35th annual Goldman Prize—which some call the "Green Nobels"—are:

  • Marcel Gomes, Brazil: Gomes, a journalist , worked with colleagues at Repórter Brasil to coordinate "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."
  • Murrawah Maroochy Johnson, Australia: Maroochy Johnson, a Wirdi woman from the Birri Gubba Nation, "blocked development of the Waratah coal mine," a "carbon bomb" that "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."
  • Alok Shukla, India: 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."
  • Andrea Vidaurre, United States: Vidaurre's "grassroots leadership persuaded the California Air Resources Board to adopt, in the spring of 2023, two historic transportation regulations that significantly limit trucking and rail emissions."
  • Sinegugu Zukulu and Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa: Zukulu and Mbuthuma "stopped destructive seismic testing for oil and gas off South Africa's Eastern Cape" by "asserting the rights of the local community to protect their marine environment," safeguarding "migratory whales, dolphins, and other wildlife from the harmful effects of seismic testing."
  • Teresa Vicente, Spain: Vicente "led a historic, grassroots campaign to save the Mar Menor ecosystem—Europe's largest saltwater lagoon—from collapse, resulting in the passage of a new law in September 2022 granting the lagoon unique legal rights."
Michael Sutton, executive director of the Goldman Environmental Foundation, described the winners to The Associated Press as "an incredible group of individuals laboring, sometimes in obscurity, against overwhelming odds to prevail against governments, against industry."

Goldman Prize winners receive a $200,000 award and can apply for additional grants to fund their work.

Reacting to his win, Gomes said: "This award recognizes the impact that journalism can have to protect the environment and ultimately improve people's lives.Repórter Brasil was able to track the Brazilian meat chain from the farm to supermarkets abroad, which companies said was not possible to do."

Vicente told the AP that the prize "signifies an international recognition that we are facing a new stage in humanity," one in which "human beings understand they are part of nature."

Shukla toldThe New York Times that he hopes his award will inspire frontline communities around the world.

"There is a way," he said, "that local communities can actually resist even the most powerful corporations using just their resolve and peaceful, democratic means."

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