Jakarta (ANTARA) - Grassroots eco-activist Delia Silalahi of North Tapanuli district, North Sumatra province, has won the Goldman Environmental Prize, an international-level award, for 2023.

"This award will be a stimulus for me to continue fighting for issues related to the environment and indigenous communities," Silalahi said, according to a statement issued here on Monday.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded to grassroots environmental activists around the world for their achievements and leadership in inspiring people to make real actions to protect the Earth.

Silalahi is the executive director of a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Kelompok Studi dan Pengembangan Prakarsa Masyarakat (KSPP) that is working to conserve the traditional forests of North Sumatra.

In February 2022, the government granted legal stewardship of a total of 7.213 hectares of traditional forests to six groups of indigenous communities thanks to a special campaign conducted by Silalahi and indigenous people in the land of Batak.

"I am very happy for this achievement, but I do not see it as a personal achievement. This (award) marks the victory of indigenous people’s movements in Indonesia," she said.

"The recognition of the rights of our land and identity did not just come from the sky. It was not simply given by the government. We fought for it, and we were not violating any regulations as our right to struggle was guaranteed by the Constitution," she stressed.

In addition to Silalahi, a number of Indonesian figures have been awarded the prize, such as Loir Botor Dingit (1997), Yosepha Alomang (2001), Yuyun Ismawati (2009), Prigi Arisandi (2011), Aleta Baun (2013), and Rudi Putra (2014).

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The Goldman Environmental Prize was instituted by renowned American community leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman in San Fransisco 34 years ago. During its lifetime, the foundation has made a significant positive impact on planet Earth.

So far, the foundation has awarded a total of 219 people, who include 98 women from 95 countries. Most of the awardees have gone on to occupy important roles in their countries as leaders of NGOs, state officials, and heads of state, among others.

"Today, when the world has come to realize that various acute environmental crises, such as climate change, fossil-based fuel extraction, as well as air and water pollution are currently underway, it becomes clear to us that all life forms on the planet are interconnected," the foundation's chairperson, John Goldman, said.

The prize winners will be felicitated at two live ceremonies. The first ceremony will be held at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco at 5:30 pm local time on April 24. It will be the first ceremony to be held offline since 2019.

The ceremony will be hosted by Rue Mapp, the founder of Outdoor Afro, an NGO dedicated to Afro-American people and their connections and leadership in nature.

It will also feature Aloe Blacc as a guest musician and will be livestreamed on the Goldman Environmental Prize Youtube channel.

The second ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. local time on April 26 at Eisenhower Theater, which is located in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C.

The ceremony will be hosted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and will feature special remarks by former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Related news: Indonesian woman wins Goldman Environmental Prize 2013

Translator: Sugiharto Purnama, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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