2017 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Prafulla Samantara, and shared experiences from his incredible, David-and-Goliath fight to protect the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s sacred land from a $2 billion mining project.
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Environmental activists all over the world are fighting to protect local people and resources despite increasingly being under threat. They stand up to powerful corporate and political interests, refusing to be silenced.
On April 26, 2017, WRI will recognize Prafulla Samantara, one of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize winners. In 2003, Samantara saw a newspaper article announcing Vedanta Resources’ plan to build an open-pit bauxite mine in eastern India’s Niyamgiri Hills. The proposed $2 billion project would have destroyed more than 1,600 acres of forest, polluted a critical water source and displaced members of the 8,000-person Dongria Kondh tribe in the process.
After reading the notice, Samantara biked across the Niyamgiri Hills to mobilize the indigenous Dongria Kondh people, who were unaware that the Indian government had appropriated their sacred lands to an $11.4 billion corporation.
He also filed a lawsuit. After a decade-long legal battle, India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 2013 that affirmed the Dongria Kondh’s land rights.
After sharing his incredible story, Samantara joined a conversation with experts on access to justice, indigenous land rights and sustainable development.
The Goldman Environmental Prize, one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the world, recognizes champions from six continents.
Many environmental activists face unconscionable retribution for their work. In recent years, two Goldman Environmental Prize winners, Isidro Baldenegro López and Berta Cáceres, were killed. Nearly half of the 281 human rights activists murdered globally in 2016 were champions of environmental, land and indigenous rights.
Prafulla Samantara, 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient, Asia
Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute
Ritwick Dutta, Environmental Lawyer and Managing Trustee, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment
Abigail Moy, Global Director, Legal Empowerment Network, Namati
Moderator: Carole Excell, Project Director, The Access Initiative, World Resources Institute