2020 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners, Brazilian Scientists Try for 2nd Lungs of the Planet, Grocers Boycott Brazilian-Grown Soybeans, Hindus Take On Climate Change

by | Feb 24, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

The 2020 The Goldman Environmental Prize winners are announced. Plus scientists in Brazil are set to grow a second set of “lungs of the planet”…just in case.  In a related story, several of the world’s largest food companies and grocers demand suppliers stop trading soybeans linked to the deforestation efforts in Brazil. And, Hindus start a climate action campaign to tackle the climate crisis, forcing us all to rethink our own procrastination.



The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from roughly the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.  The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation.  This year’s six prize winners are:

Leydy Pech: Mexico / North America–an indigenous Mayan beekeeper, Pech successfully halted Monsanto’s planting of genetically modified soybeans in southern Mexico.

Kristal Ambrose: The Bahamas / Islands and Island NationsDrawing on the power of youth activism, she convinced the government of The Bahamas to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups.

Paul Sein Twa: Myanmar / AsiaSeeking to preserve both the environment and Karen culture in Myanmar, in December 2018 he led his people in establishing a 1.35-million-acre peace park—a unique and collaborative community-based approach to conservation—in the Salween River basin.

Nemonte Nenquimo: Ecuador / South and Central AmericaNenquimo led an indigenous campaign and legal action that resulted in a court ruling protecting 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest and Waorani territory from oil extraction.

Chibeze Ezekiel: Ghana / AfricaAs a direct result of his four-year grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant and adjoining shipping port to import coal.

Lucie Pinson: France / Europe– In 2017, Lucie Pinson’s activism successfully pressured France’s three largest banks to eliminate financing for new coal projects and coal companies.   

DEEPER DIVE: Goldman Prize, The Guardian



Often referred to as the lungs of the planet, the Amazon forest in South America is one of the largest and most ecologically diverse tropical rainforests on Earth, home to more than half of the world’s planet and animal species.

However, over the last 40 years, the Amazon has been increasingly threatened by deforestation and wildfires, impacting life in the forest and around the world. But today, scientists in Brazil have mapped secondary forests to help regrow the Amazon, reduce wildfires, and reduce carbon emissions from deforestation production. Reported by Mongabay, the scientists are able to identify the extent, age, and location best to regrow the forest, offering new opportunities to monitor and protect the Amazon and landowners. 

While the federal government has yet to establish policies protecting the secondary forest, a lead research at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation told Mongabay banning deforestation of the secondary forests could be the beginning of natural reforestation.

Deeper Dive: Mongabay 



Hindu Climate Action has been working with temples to be less wasteful during religious festivals. Co-founding member Priya Koria, 21, from Bristol, said: “There’s a big lack of representation in terms of the Hindu community on the climate activism front.” Temple chairman Pradeep Bhardwaj agreed that most Hindus were not vocal about environmental issues but believed it was “deeply embedded in the Hindu consciousness”. 

“This planet is the most important thing that we have got collectively as a human race and we should do whatever it takes to not just respect and sustain, but to enhance our planet. What climate change presents is answering the question at the heart of Hinduism,” said Gopal Patel, executive director of the Bhumi Project, a U.K.-based Hindu climate action group. 

Patel noted that followers of Hinduism and other Dharmic religions like Buddhism have long argued a different model than those of Abrahamic faiths in combating climate change. That’s because, he says, rather than looking at climate change from a matter of human rights, Hindu philosophy prioritizes the idea that “all life has rights.”




Marking a turning point between business and environmental conservation sectors, several of the world’s largest food companies and grocers have demanded suppliers stop trading soybeans linked with deforestation efforts in Brazil. 

Reported by Bloomberg, food companies including Nestle, Uni-leave-er, McDonald’s, Walmart and Tesco wrote a letter demanding suppliers stop soybean trade associated with deforestation beginning in 2021. According to a statement from the consumers, five of the six traders responded, but so far none have agreed to the letter’s requests.

Tesco’s head of environment said in a statement the company plays a leading role in protecting the region’s biodiversity for future generations and calls for the implementation of robust monitoring of the trade company’s affiliations with deforestation efforts. Due to the increasing attention on deforestation linked with soybean trade in Brazil, more companies around the world have rejected soybean purchases from the country since.  

DEEPER DIVE: Bloomberg