The Goldman Prize – The Importance of Human Rights in the Conservation Debate

On April 24th 2016 in the San Francisco Opera house, the Goldman Environmental Prize was awarded to six people from around the world, including our friend and project officer for Ujamaa Community Resource Team, Edward Loure.  This prize recognizes individuals and highlights the work they and their organizations have done to inform and implement sound environmental conservation. But what does that word conservation really mean? In a world where people often see conservation as ‘saving the planet’, the environment protected from people, of armed rangers protecting Elephants and rows of neat little trees, the Goldman Environmental Prize paints a very different picture. The stories of these winners and the organizations they represent could not be further from this image. They are all heavily involved in indigenous community rights or support for communities living in or depending on the land in which they live. Conservation with people, a recognition that we are part of and function within these environments, a recognition of global connectivity, powerful stuff.


What’s clear to me is that all of these people have one thing in common, their knowledge, whether taught at school or inherited through traditional practice is critical to all of humanity. That the ecosystem services, so clear and obvious to any of these people and the communities they represent has intrinsic value. So whilst the Goldman Prize recognizes individuals for their sterling work, it also highlights the importance of ecosystems to all of humanity, how connected we are with the world around us, how dependant we are on our own cultures, how conservation is really about us.


To Edward and all the other winners of this prize, we salute you, not just for winning this prize, but for reminding us all that the global community is linked to how local communities value and manage their environments on which we all depend.


Written by Carbon Tanzania Founder, Marc Baker