And the winners of the 2017 prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize have been announced. Among the winners are community organizer Mark Lopez, who forced the state of California to conduct comprehensive lead testing and cleanup of a working-class Latino neighborhood in East Los Angeles; Guatemalan indigenous leader Rodrigo Tot, who won a historic court case that forced the government to issue land titles to indigenous people and blocked the expansion of a nickel mine; Indian social justice activist Prafulla Samantara, who helped organize an indigenous tribe to resist a proposed open-pit aluminum mine in the eastern state of Odisha; and Congolese park ranger Rodrigue Katembo, who went undercover to document corruption and bribery in the illegal push to drill for oil in the oldest national park in Africa. This is Katembo explaining how he was arrested and tortured for over two weeks during his investigation.
Rodrigue Katembo: “They took me at gunpoint. They tied me up and started to beat me very hard. They told me that I had brought shame to my country and that I would have to be killed today. I told them that many of my colleagues had already died. If I die today, it’s not a problem. I am prepared to die.”
The winners also include Slovenian farmer Uros Macerl, who organized against the burning of poisonous waste near his farm, and Australian octogenarian Wendy Bowman, who faced off against a multinational coal mining company—and won.