The Goldman Environmental Foundation held its annual awards ceremony Wednesday, honoring the world’s foremost grassroots environmental activists. This year’s winners include Nigeria’s Chima Williams, an environmental lawyer who worked with communities to hold Royal Dutch Shell accountable for the environmental impact of its oil spills in Nigeria. Other winners include Ecuador’s Alexandra Narváez and Alex Lucitante, who together spearheaded an Indigenous movement to protect Cofán ancestral territory from gold mining. Also winning a Goldman Award this year was Nalleli Cobo of Los Angeles, California, who in March 2020, at the age of 19, led a community coalition to permanently shut down an oil drilling site in her community. Cobo survived childhood asthma and a bout of cancer she blamed on toxins from the oil wells.
Nalleli Cobo: “What formally began in January 2011 as a grassroots campaign in South Los Angeles fighting the oil well next door, operating on land owned by the archdiocese, ends in January 2022 with the city of Los Angeles voting unanimously to phase out oil and gas wells. We won’t stop here. We need to ensure our elected officials act on this. I fight because I believe everyone has a right to breathe clean air, despite age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or ZIP code. I fight so no future generations has a childhood like mine.”