January 17, 2021

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2020 Goldman Environmental Prize: Ghanaian and Bahamian activists among winners

2 min read

GHANAIAN ANTI-COAL activist Chibeze Ezekiel and Bahamian environmental activist Kristal Ambrose are among the six winners of this year’s 2020 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 honours the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists from around the world.

Ambrose, 29, the founder of the Bahamas Plastic Movement, drew on the power of youth activism to convince the government of The Bahamas to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups. The nationwide ban, which was announced in April 2018, went into effect in January 2020. 

Her passion for protecting the environment has earned her the nickname “Kristal Ocean”.

“I cannot believe that I am the 2020 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for Islands and Island Nations,” Ambrose said.

She said the work would help her continue her work.

ACTIVIST: Chibeze Ezekiel (Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize)

Ezekial was recognised for leading a four-year grassroots campaign against the construction of a 700-megawatt coal power plant. As a result of Ezekial’s work, the Ghanaian minister of environment cancelled the construction of the plant and adjoining shipping port to import coal. The coal power plant would have been Ghana’s first. Ezekiel’s activism stopped the coal industry from entering Ghana and steered the nation’s energy future away from coal. 

“With this award, we intend to pursue our climate change actions in the area of fighting against fossil fuels and promoting more of renewable energies as better alternatives,” Ezekial said.

Also among this year’s prize winners are Leydy Pech, Lucie Pinson, Nemonte Nenquimo and Paul Sein Twawho.

To date, the prize, which was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by philanthropists and civic leaders Rhoda and Richard Goldman has honoured 200 winners from 90 nations.

“These six environmental champions reflect the powerful impact that one person can have on many,” said John Goldman, president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation.

He added: “Even in the face of the unending onslaught and destruction upon our natural world, there are countless individuals and communities fighting every day to protect our planet. These are six of those environmental heroes, and they deserve the honour and recognition the Prize offers them – for taking a stand, risking their lives and livelihoods, and inspiring us with real, lasting environmental progress.”

Normally, the winners are awarded the prize in-person at a ceremony at the San Francisco Opera House in April, but this year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, recipients were awarded virtually.