By MB Online and the Associated Press
Filipino Manny Calonzo was among seven people from around the world to be awarded a Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism.
Calonzo, from the EcoWaste Coalition, was recognized for his efforts on banning lead paint in the country.
“As of 2017, 85 percent of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as lead safe,” the Goldman Environmental Prize reported.
The award-giving body said the Filipino environmentalist “led the development of a third-party certification program to ensure that paint manufacturers meet this standard.”
“Public awareness about the hazards of lead in paint was extremely low so we went to schools and communities to get the word out,” Calonzo shared, talking about his journey to a lead-free Philippines.
A woman who played a key role in exposing the lead-tainted water disaster in Flint, Michigan, was also among the winners of the annual environmental awards.
Lee Anne Walters was repeatedly rebuffed by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, even as she confronted regulators with bottles of brown water that came from her kitchen tap. Finally, with critical help from a Virginia Tech research team and a local doctor, it was revealed in 2015 that Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead due to a lack of treatment.
Walters, a mother of four, “worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring justice to not only her immediate family but all residents of Flint,” the Goldman Environmental Foundation said today in announcing this year’s winners.
The prize was created in 1989 by the late San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Winners are selected from nominations made by environmental organizations and others. The prize carries a $200,000 award.
Walters now lives in Virginia but regularly returns to Flint, where thousands of home water lines are being replaced due to the lead crisis. The city’s water quality has improved since it stopped using the Flint River as its source after 18 months, although there are many concerns about lead that was ingested, especially by children.
The other winners were:
— Francia Marquez of Colombia, who rallied other women to vigorously oppose gold mining in the Cauca region;
— Claire Nouvian of France, who successfully campaigned against deep-sea fish trawling;
— Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid of South Africa, who fought to stop a nuclear plant deal between their country and Russia;
— Khanh Nguy Thi of Vietnam, who used scientific research to discourage dependency on coal-fired power. (with reports from Associated Press)