Chima Williams Named Winner Of 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize

Chima Williams, the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has been named a winner of the 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize among seven winners.

Other winners of the prize include Niwat Roykaew (Thailand), Marjan Minnessma (the Netherlands); Juliet Vincent (Australia); Nalleli Cobo (United States); Alex Luciatante, and Alexandra Narvaez (Ecuador).

The Goldman Prize is awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions.

According to a statement released by the Goldman Environmental Foundation:

“The Goldman Environmental Prize honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists from around the world, inspiring all of us to take action to protect our planet.”

Mr. Chima Williams, who became ERA/FoEN Executive Director in October 2020, won the award based on his work with two Niger Delta communities to hold Royal Dutch Shell accountable for environmental damage caused by a spill from its facilities into the communities between 2004 and 2007.

On the 29th January 2021, after 13 years of legal proceedings, the Court of Appeal sitting in The Hague, Netherlands, the home country of Shell, ruled in favour of three Nigerian farmers from two communities in two states of the Niger Delta – Eric Barizaa Dooh of Goi Community of Rivers State; Fidelis Oguru and Alali Efanga both from Oruma Community of Bayelsa State.

The court ruled that not only was Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary responsible for the oil spills but, as the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell also had an obligation to prevent the spills.

The ruling was the first time a Dutch transnational corporation has been held accountable for the violations of its subsidiary in another country, opening Shell to legal action from communities across Nigeria devastated by the company’s disregard for environmental safety.

A previous Nigerian winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize is Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late playwright and environmentalist who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995. The Cross River-based environmentalist Odigha Odigha also got the award in 2003 for his work in protecting Nigeria’s remaining rainforests.

Usually, the award is conducted in-person at a ceremony at the San Francisco Opera House, United States, but this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prize will be awarded virtually and broadcast online.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by philanthropists and civic leaders Rhoda and Richard Goldman.

To date, 213 winners have been honoured, including 95 women from 93 nations.

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