Since 1990, the Goldman Environmental Prize has been awarded to grassroots environmental leaders who have demonstrated remarkable efforts to protect and enhance the natural world. Each year, candidates for the prize are nominated by a diverse coalition of climate organizations, including, for the first time for the 2021 prize, Brighter Green. A jury composed of international leaders in the field of climate change then selects six individuals representing the six inhabited continents to receive an award. Often working with limited resources in underserved communities, these six individuals strive to achieve environmental justice despite assuming great personal risk. Past winners include Nobel peace prize recipient and former Brighter Green advisory board member Wangari Maathai (1991).
This year, we are thrilled and honored that environmental justice campaigner and organizer Sharon Lavigne, whom Brighter Green nominated, has been awarded the 2021 Goldman Prize for North America. Ms. Lavigne, a teacher turned activist, has been recognized for her work in disrupting the construction of a plastics manufacturing plant in her community in Louisiana. More information about Sharon and her grassroots organization, RISE St. James, can be found here. This year’s virtual ceremony, which is now available to stream, was hosted by actor/activist Jane Fonda and featured a special appearance by Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate. Ms. Nakate is currently working on a book with Brighter Green’s executive director Mia MacDonald that will be published in October, just before the next UN climate change summit. We congratulate all of this year’s winners for leading inspiring and often risky campaigns to both protect the natural world and human communities and stop environmental harms and injustices to people, non-human animals, and ecosystems.