Goldman Prize Speech

Goldman Prize Speech

Goldman Prize Speech

Twenty-five years ago we in the Upper Mixteca recognized that we were living through a severe ecological crisis that was creating poverty, malnutrition, and migration.

Today, we have to recognize that all the inhabitants of this planet are living in a similar crisis.

We recognize that indigenous peoples have historically been the creators and guardians of biological and genetic wealth, holding sacred our native seeds of wheat, beans, and tomatoes that have enriched the entire world's food culture. We recognize that we must now reclaim this important role for the good of humanity.

To take on this responsibility, we have to confront various economic and political challenges. The opening of markets through free trade agreements has provoked low prices for our products and the disappearance of government support to the countryside.

This policy brought about an immeasurable increase in the cost of production, leading to a rural poverty that has led to massive migration and threatens to make our indigenous peoples and compassions disappear.

In the same way, the introduction of modified seeds and other methods of controlling seed distribution and the control of agricultural and food markets of the world threaten this genetic wealth that we indigenous peoples care for as the world's heritage.

We at CEDICAM hope that this respect for Mother Earth that we are recuperating among indigenous peoples can serve as an example to all of the inhabitants of the planet in this time of environmental crisis.

We also hope that the struggle our Mixteca people have endured with their sweat and commitment can give us all the confidence that with our strength, this Earth will have the capacity to recuperate and continue to give life to all of its inhabitants today and in future generations.

— Reprinted with thanks to the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund


The Goldman Environmental Prize annually honors grassroots environmental heroes from each of the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. The prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $150,000, the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists. Jesús León Santos, the 2008 honoree from North America, delivered these remarks in April in San Francisco at this year's awards ceremony.


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