On April 16, it was announced from San Francisco that Evgenia Chirikova, one of the founders and organizers of the Defend Khimki Forest movement, based in Moscow, Russia, is the 2012 European winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. "EarthAction salutes Chirikova for her focused, persistent and effective work to protect this important forest on the outskirts of Moscow," says Lois Barber, EarthAction's Co-founder and Executive Director. Starting in July 2010 and throughout 2011, EarthAction rallied its global network in support of Chirikova's work to protect the Khimki Forest from being the site of a planned highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. For its part, EarthAction issued a series of global Action Alerts mobilizing people and organizations worldwide to take action in support of the Khimki forest and the local organizers in Moscow.
At the request of Chirikova and her colleagues, EarthAction asked its worldwide network to send messages to the heads of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, major financial backers of the highway, asking them to withdraw their funding for the highway construction, citing environmental, social and financial concerns about the project. The Goldman Award noted that it was "the most significant victory" when the Banks withdraw their financial support. “EarthAction” is delighted to have played a role in helping Chirikova and the Defend Khimki movement win this victory,” states Barber.
The Goldman Foundation, in acknowledging Chirikova's work stated, "In this atmosphere of violent political and civil repression, Chirikova and her colleagues continue to fight for an alternative route and an absolute halt to the forest destruction. Energized by the erosion of support for Putin’s ruling party, Chirikova is breathing new life into Russian civil society’s appetite for political reform, and with it, the fight to protect Khimki Forest."
Click here to read about Evgenia Chrikova's award winning environmental work.
The Prize cash award has increased over the years and today each winner receives an award of $150,000. Winners also participate in a 10-day tour of San Francisco and Washington, D.C. that includes award ceremonies, news conferences, media briefings and meetings with political, public policy, financial and environmental leaders.