June 30, 2021

Goats, Pangolins, and Green Nobels


Congratulations to Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, an alumna of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), and Thai Van Nguyen, an alumnus of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), for being named two of the six winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize! The award, also known as the Green Nobel, honors grassroots environmental heroes from roughly the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. This award recognizes individuals for their sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto was selected for her work tackling the plastics industry and galvanizing a grassroots movement in support of a national ban on thin plastics, a type of single-use plastic. Her “great awakening,” as NPR notes, came when she saw how discarded plastics were killing local goats and affecting people's livelihoods and health. As a result of her dedicated campaigning, in July 2019, Malawi’s High Court upheld the ban on the production, importation, distribution, and use of thin plastics.

You can learn more about Gloria and her efforts on the Goldman Prize website.

Thai Van Nguyen’s journey to protect pangolins began when he was 8 years old. That was when he saw a baby pangolin and its mom being caught and killed by neighbors in his village.

Pangolins are the world's most trafficked mammal, prized as a food and medicinal source. Experts estimate that more than a million pangolins have been snatched from the wild in the past decade, threatening the species with extinction.

Thai founded Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in 2014 to help save the species. Through his leadership, the organization has rescued 1,540 pangolins from illegal wildlife trade and significantly reduced illegal poaching activities.

As Thai notes in his acceptance speech for the prize, “Thinking is not enough. Please take action.”

You can learn more about Thai’s efforts on the Goldman Prize website.