Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho
Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho, a founding father and environmental hero of East Timor, the world’s newest nation, has won one of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prizes. A former resistance leader he founded the country’s first environmental pressure group while it was still under occupation and is largely credited with getting environmental principles included in the nation’s constitution, to help guide the management of the country’s rainforests, coral reefs and vast oil and gas reserves.

Two victims of the Bhopal disaster, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla won another of the Prizes, which were founded by Richard and Rhoda Goldman 15 years ago for grassroots environmental activists. The two women, though poor and sick, organized a global hunger strike to draw attention to the aftermath of the disaster and are plaintiffs in a class action suit demanding a clean-up.

The other winners are: Margie Richard, who got her community relocated from polluted ‘Cancer Alley’ in Louisiana, United States; Libia Grueso, who halted logging, at risk to her life, in one of the world's richest rainforests in Colombia; Rudolf Amenga-Etego, a Ghanaian public-interest lawyer, who secured the suspension of a water privatization project that would have made it harder for the poor to get clean water; and Manana Kochladze, who is fighting plans to lay an oil pipeline across her native Georgia.

The Prize, considered the ‘Nobel Prize for the Environment’ consists of $125,000 given each year to activists from six regions, covering the world. A survey of past recipients reveals that their work has so far benefited an estimated 102 million people.

Professor Wangari Maathai Professor Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Assistant Environment Minister, has won two more prestigious international prizes for her championship of sustainable development. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, awarding her the Petra Kelly Prize, honoured her ‘unique position in African politics and her commitment to environmental issues’. The jury of the Sophie Prize – established in 1997 by the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder and his wife Siri Dannevig – called her ‘the most outspoken and respected environmental activist in Africa’. The jury added, ‘She has pioneered a unique holistic community-based approach to development, combining environmental education and empowerment of civil society, especially women.’

Keisha Castle-Hughes Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 13-year-old star of ‘Whale Rider’, rode in a hybrid Toyota Prius rather than a stretch limo to this year’s Oscar ceremony – where she was nominated as best actress – to help highlight the battle against global warming.

‘Even though I am not old enough to drive, I am old enough to know that the environment is in danger,’ she explained.

Charlize Theron, Sting, Robin Williams, Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Will Ferrell also arrived at the Academy awards in hybrids, courtesy of the environmental group Global Green USA. Ferrell, who himself owns a Prius, says: ‘In addition to being obviously economical and environmentally friendly, they drive great and are just plain sexy.’

Monica Ali British celebrities have launched a campaign to ask the public to make ‘one small change’ in their daily lives, to mark World Environment Day.

Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane, shortlisted for the last Booker Prize, pledged to plant a tree, reuse plastic bags (‘which I loathe’) and turn off the tap when cleaning her teeth (‘I was astounded at how much water it would save’). Channel Four news anchor Jon Snow promised to put a water-saving device in his cistern, and TV quizmaster Chris Tarrant undertook to plant a tree. (Our Planet editor, Geoffrey Lean, pledged to get a shredder so that he could put the press releases that clutter his desk onto his compost heap.)

Research commissioned by the National Environment Agency showed that 73 per cent of the people of England and Wales might do more for the environment if they thought it would make a difference.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Jim Iocona, J Eggitt-AFP, Premiere, The Daily Star

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Töpfer | Into the mainstream | Creation’s forgotten days | Restoring a pearl | Stop my nation vanishing | Energy release | Oceans need mountains | People | An ocean corridor | At a glance: Seas, oceans and small islands | Profile: Cesaria Evora | No island is an island | Small islands, big potential | Small is vulnerable | Natural resilience | Books and products | Keeping oil from troubled waters | Redressing the balance | Neighbours without borders | Will Mother Nature wait? | Pacific canaries

Complementary articles in other issues:
Issue on World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002
Issue on Energy, 2003

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment: