Apr 29, 2024 - World

"Green Nobel" spotlights environmental impacts on Latinos and Latin Americans

Two side-by-side photos show Marcel Gomes and Andrea Vidaurre. Gomes has his arms crossed while looking into the camera. Vidaurre is leaning against something.

Marcel Gomes and Andrea Vidaurre. Photos: Courtesy of Goldman Environmental Prize

A Latina activist based in California and a Brazilian investigative reporter have received the world's biggest environmental prize for their separate work spotlighting the impacts of global supply chains.

Why it matters: The work of Andrea Vidaurre in the U.S. and of Marcel Gomes in Brazil has helped shed light on how U.S. Latino communities and people across Latin America are affected by climate change and pollution.

Driving the news: The Goldman Prize, which some have nicknamed the "Green Nobel," announced Monday that Vidaurre and Gomes, who is based in São Paulo, are among this year's seven winners.

Zoom in: Vidaurre, co-founder of the group People's Collective for Environmental Justice, began gathering data in 2020 on the impact of pollution from cargo trucks and trains crossing through California's Inland Empire and advocating to reduce it.

  • The Inland Empire is home to more than a thousand massive warehouses that fulfill online shopping orders. The region's largest cities, Riverside and San Bernardino — where Latinos make up more than 50% of the population — have some of the worst air quality ratings in the U.S.
  • As a result of advocacy from Vidaurre and others, California last year adopted standards for zero emissions from fleet vehicles, requiring delivery vans, school buses and big rigs to transition to emissions-free engines over time.
  • Other states have since adopted similar measures, and the White House announced last week it will push for similar rules to cut freight emissions at the national level.

Between the lines: "When you click and shop online, you don't necessarily know where that's coming from," Vidaurre says, "but there is a whole system of communities that make the global supply chain happen… and there are deadly impacts from it, due to air quality and more."

  • "Which is why when thinking about environmental and climate change policies, it's key to include the voices of those that are most impacted, with a global responsibility," she says.

Gomes is a journalist with Repórter Brasil, which has published stories exposing child labor in farms linked to multinational corporations and has traced gold purchased by major tech companies to illegal mining that's poisoning Indigenous peoples.

What they're saying: "There is a tremendous need to make all elements across supply chains more transparent, for more companies to do due diligence of where things come from," Gomes tells Axios Latino.

  • "Publicly monitoring and exposing this matters... because these chains are global and so require international solutions," he adds.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show there were seven winners of this year's Goldman Prize, not six.

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