In Latin America, the winner is Francia Mrquez, an Afro-Colombian community leader who led a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women from the Amazon to Bogot that prompted the government to send troops to remove illegal miners who were polluting rivers with cyanide and mercury.
Like many previous winners, she faces immense risks. The dangers of environmental activism have been evident in the murder of two Goldman-prize recipients in the past two years.
The 2015 winner Berta Cceres a Honduran indigenous rights and anti-dam campaigner, was killed less than a year after collecting the award. Ten months later, a 2005 winner Mexican activist Isidro Baldenegro Lpez was gunned down in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Earlier this month, one of last years winners, Rodrigue Katembo a park ranger in the Virunga sanctuary for mountain gorillas lost six of his colleagues in a massacre by militia groups.
Mrquez said insecurity is also a fact of life in her campaign.
We constantly receive death threats from militias, leaders, organisations and communities. Protecting the environment and land will always result in dispute between those who want the territory to live and those who want it to fill their pockets with money, she told the Guardian. This award is a recognition of the collective struggle of all peoples in the world who care for the environment … and all the leaders who have been killed for the cause of caring for our common home.
A law student and a single mother of two, the 35-year-old has been an environment and community activist since she joined a campaign against a hydroelectric dam at the age of 13.
The increasingly prominent role of women in environmental activism has been recognised by this years prizes. Since 1990, six awards one for each habitable continent have been announced by the Goldman prize foundation, which was set up by an member of the Levi Strauss family who made a fortune in the insurance business.
Mrquez says she will use the award to promote a new mode of economics and politics based on life-giving maternal love rather than dead extractivism.
The first thing we need is to be more aware of the historical moment in which we find ourselves: the planet is being destroyed, its that simple, and if we do nothing to avoid it we will we will be part of that destruction, she said. Our time has come, we must act, we have a responsibility to future generations to leave a better world, in which taking care of life is more important than producing cumulative wealth.