For those who were wondering about Google’s latest logo, this past Saturday marked Earth Day 2006. In commemoration of Earth Day and to promote environmental awareness worldwide, The Goldman Environmental Prize will be awarded today in a ceremony in San Francisco. One of the six recipients this year is Silas Kpananâ€™Ayoung Siakor (36), a Liberian environmentalist who exposed evidence that Liberian President Charles Taylor used the profits of unchecked, rampant logging to pay the costs of a brutal 14-year civil war that left 150,000 people dead. At great personal risk, Siakor collected extremely hard-to-get evidence of falsified logging records, illegal logging practices and associated human rights abuses. He passed the evidence to the United Nations Security Council, which then banned the export of Liberian timber. Fearing for his life Mr. Siakor left Liberia for a period of exile spent in several neighboring countries.
With international sanctions on timber exports set to be lifted in June, Mr. Siakor continues fighting powerful forces that want to tap into Liberiaâ€™s forests as a source of income. As director of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), in January he published a report outlining the sort of reforms he feels need to be carried out in order to protect the long term future of Liberia’s forests and the wildlife that depends upon them.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest prize honoring grassroots environmentalist. Described as “the Nobel Prize for grassroots environmentalism” the prize provides International recognition, worldwide visibility, and financial support of $125,000 to the winners to pursue their vision of a renewed and protected environment. After the San Francisco ceremony today at the Opera House, the Prize winners will travel to Washington D.C. for an awards ceremony and events at the National Press Club, on Capitol Hill and at the Brookings Institute with political, policy and environmental leaders.