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More than 100 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners Call On Government Leaders to Take Risks at Rio Earth Summit, Commit to Sustainable Development

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SAN FRANCISCO – Recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists, are calling on world leaders to attend the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro and make real commitments to protect the environment.

A total of 107 Goldman Prize winners, representing a broad spectrum of environmental activists – indigenous leaders, attorneys, clergy, government officials, biologists, among others – from 68 countries have added their names to the statement. All have taken great personal risks to protect the environment, often facing arrest, torture, violent threats and assassination attempts along the way.

Signatories on the letter include:
• Alexander Nikitin (Russia, 1997), a former naval captain who was jailed on treason charges for revealing the environmental threats behind Russia’s decommissioned nuclear submarines;
• Medha Patkar (India, 1992) who has been repeatedly beaten and arrested during protests against environmentally destructive redevelopment projects; and
• Marina Silva (Brazil, 1996), former Brazilian environment minister who, despite the assassination of her close colleague Chico Mendes, led demonstrations with rubber tappers to protect tropical forests in the Amazon.

The statement recognizes that much of the progress achieved in environmental protection since the original Earth Summit in 1992 came from the grassroots level, but that there is now a pressing need for leadership at the government level to rise to the challenge of climate change and sustainable development.

The open letter, addressed to government leaders around the world, was released today, on UN World Environment Day. It reads: “For over two decades, the Goldman Environmental Prize has honored individuals for the great risks we take to protect the environment. Now we ask you to take a risk. Attend the Earth Summit in Rio and lead us into action.” The full statement is online.

About the Goldman Environmental Prize
The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. For additional information visit www.goldmanprize.org.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.

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