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Press Release
April 24, 2006

Contacts

Chinese River Defender Wins Prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize

Yu Xiaogang

Yu Xiaogang
Director of Chinese NGO Green Watershed

Stone Drum Village on Yangtze River

Stone Drum Village on Yangtze River, will be submerged if damming occurs

SAN FRANCISCO, April 24, 2006 Yu Xiaogang, the Founder and Director of Chinese NGO Green Watershed, will be awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize tonight for his pioneering work in protecting rivers and watersheds in China.

Mr. Yu spent years creating groundbreaking watershed management programs while researching and documenting the social and environmental impacts of dams on riverine communities. His reports are considered a primary reason that the central government paid additional restitution to villagers displaced by existing dams and now requires social impact assessments for major dam developments.

"Mr. Yu has been a torch–bearer for healthy, free–flowing rivers in China. This award is a testament to Mr. Yu’s incredible work in leading a citizens’ movement to protect China’s rivers and people from the impacts of dams," said Aviva Imhof of Berkeley–based International Rivers Network, who nominated Mr. Yu for the prize.

Mr. Yu has been a key player in the movement to protect the Nu River, one of only two undammed major rivers in China.  In 2003, the Yunnan provincial government announced plans to construct 13 dams on the Nu River, which flows through the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage Site. The dams would displace 50,000 people, indirectly affect the livelihoods of millions living downstream in China, Burma and Thailand, and negatively affect endangered flora and fauna in the area. Yu educated villagers in the Three Parallel Rivers area and worked with the Chinese media to raise national awareness of the issue.

In 2004, after an unprecedented outcry, Premier Wen Jiabao suspended plans for the dams, saying more research and scientific analysis was needed. The project is still on hold, but the provincial government, intent on building the dams, has proposed a scaled–back version with four dams.

"We face so many environmental problems that these successes are only the first steps in the Long March. To realize true sustainable development throughout China, we need the full participation of all Chinese citizens," said Mr. Yu.

The $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 17th year, is awarded annually to six grassroots environmental heroes and is the largest award of its kind in the world. The winners will be awarded the prize at an invitation–only ceremony tonight (Monday, April 24, 2006) at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House.

About the Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1990 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 113 people from 67 countries. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. Previous Prize winners have been at the center of some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, including seeking justice for victims of environmental disasters at Love Canal and Bhopal, India; leading the fight for dolphin–safe tuna; fighting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and exposing Monsanto’s role in introducing rBGH milk–stimulating hormone in the dairy industry.

About International Rivers Network

International Rivers Network protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them. IRN opposes destructive dams and the development model they advance, and encourages better ways of meeting people’s needs for water, energy and protection from destructive floods. For more information about IRN go to www.irn.org.

ATTENTION EDITORS: Detailed biographical information and photographs of all winners are available at www.goldmanprize.org/2006media. Also available are broadcast–quality video and audio of the winners in their home countries. Additional information about the Prize and previous winners is at www.goldmanprize.org.

 
Additional Information

For further information, please contact:

    Aviva Imhof, International Rivers Network
    E–mail: aviva@irn.org
    Phone: +1 510–848–1155