They cover the globe, from Cuba to Swaziland, but what six environmentalists now share is being named Monday as the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize winners — and taking home $150,000 each for their activism.
"I am motivated and inspired by the courage of these leaders," Goldman Prize founder Richard Goldman, said in a statement. "Their commitment to fighting for a better future illustrates the perseverance of the grassroots environmental movement around the world."
The largest environmental award, the Goldman prize was started in 1989 by the San Francisco philanthropist. The prize honors an activist from each of Earth's six inhabited continental regions and an international jury picks winners based on confidential nominations submitted by individuals and environmental groups.
Here's a brief look at each 2010 winner:
- Thuli Makama (Swaziland) is her country's only public interest environmental attorney, challenging the forced evictions and violence against poor Swazis living next to conservation areas.
- Tuy Sereivathana (Cambodia) works to mitigate human-elephant conflicts by introducing low-cost ways to diffuse clashes and getting locals to help protect endangered Asian elephants.
- Malgorzata Gorska (Poland) protects the Rospuda Valley, one of Europe's last wildernesses, from threats that included a now-stopped highway project.
- Humberto Rios Labrada (Cuba) fosters seed diversity and low-input sustainable agriculture at 50,000 farms. As a result, chemical exposure among rural Cubans has fallen, while crop yields have increased.
- Lynn Henning (USA) tracks pollution from large farms, known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Regulators in her home state of Michigan have issued hundreds of citations for water quality violations.
- Randall Arauz (Costa Rica) works to stop shark finning, where sharks are hunted just for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup in Asia. He led the campaign to halt the practice in Costa Rica, making his country an international model for shark protection.