BERKELEY, CA — After a global search, Filipino environmental activist Gina Lopez won the 2017 Seacology prize last week in Berkeley, for her dedication to protecting the Philippine environment.
Each year, the island conservation organization awards $10,000 to a standout in environmental advocacy. Lopez, who says she is donating her winnings to charity, is the first winner from the Philippines.
While Seacology says Lopez’s background differs from most awardees, her vision and courage fits the bill.
“We had a great roster of nominees, but Gina Lopez rose right to the top because of her passion, her commitment and her demonstrated success in bettering the environment in the Philippines for the Filipino people,” said chairman Dr. Paul Alan Cox.
Seacology recognized several of Lopez’s projects, including banning open-pit mines and establishing the first ever consultations between the government and indigenous groups.
“When an international org gives credit to an activity like this, it sends a message to everyone in the Philippines that the world thinks this is important,” she said.
After winning the 2017 Seacology award, Lopez reveals that her approach to taking on environmental sustainability in the Philippines is simple:
“The key to genuine economic growth which must result in social justice. The key and the foundation is love.”
Lopez also shared her latest initiative: Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies, or I Love — an organization that builds green economies on a grassroots level.
As international interest in the Philippine environment grows, Lopez invites Filipinos living abroad to also join in on the movement.
“You have to go home and you contact us and you have to visit the islands at yung pera niyo dalhin niyo doon para makapera sila… we have everything there,” she said. “If we save the Philippines, they have a home to go to.”