On April 23rd, nine international environmental policy students from the Middlebury Institute attended the Goldman Environmental Prize Ceremony in San Francisco to witness the presentation of seven awards for outstanding work in the environmental field.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is a longstanding prestigious award within the environmental field honoring grassroots activists who have fought governments, multinational corporations, and other groups to stop environmental crimes, encourage better regulatory practices, or to promote the culture of their community. Since the creation of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1990, 179 environmental grassroots activists have been honored, with six new recipients receiving the award each spring. Traditionally, one person is honored each year from North America, South and Central America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Islands and Island Nations. For the 2018 ceremony, the awardees came from France, Vietnam, Colombia, South Africa, Philippines, and the United States.
For many of the students it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness some of most impressive environmental advocates in the world speaking about the work they have done and the progress they feel still needs to be made. The activists shared what motivated them to build movements, challenge current environmental practices, and risk their lives in the name of justice. The award ceremony, followed by a reception, provided students the chance to mingle with other environmental practitioners and consider where their futures may take them. “The Goldman Prize is a rare opportunity to salute individuals who are truly deserving of public acclaim,” says Louis Abelmen MAIEP ’18. “These are people who have spent their lives in defense of their communities against powerful and dangerous destructive forces, and who have in many cases placed their lives at risk to do so. It was a humbling and rare experience, and I’m so thankful that I was able to attend.”
Caitlyn Floyd MAIEP ‘19 was interviewed by a local news station in San Francisco at the event. “It was very inspirational and I loved seeing grassroots movements have international momentum; these actions started on a local level and developed into an international community campaign due to the support and backing their leaders received from home communities. In five of the six movements, women are the leaders and play such a crucial role in mobilizing the bottom up approach of policy change.”
Students Bryce Bray and Siobhan Gibbons each learned this week that they won a Boren Fellowship, the first time that two students from the MA in International Environmental Policy program have ever been awarded a Boren in the same year.
As part of a course on “Managing International Marine Pollution,” seven Middlebury Institute environmental policy students had the opportunity to experience a United Nations diplomatic meeting in London firsthand, meeting with delegates and other stakeholders.