In an online ceremony last night, Bob Brown Foundation presented its 9th annual Environment Awards to prize winners from across Australia.
Established in 2012, the awards recognise environmentalists who have demonstrated resolute courage and conviction in taking a stand for environmental protection, preservation, and justice.
This year’s winners are:
Environmentalist of the Year Award - Ben Pennings
A tireless advocate for the environment, Ben Pennings has been a key organiser in the Stop Adani campaign for many years.
Young Environmentalists of the Year - Youth Verdict
Youth Verdict are a coalition of young people based in Queensland taking landmark legal action against Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal, using the new Queensland Human Rights Act 2019 to object to the mine on the grounds that climate change threatens all young people's right to life and First Nations people’s right to Country and culture, with a compounding impact on young First Nations people. This case is the first youth-led climate case on human rights grounds in Australia with the potential to set a precedent for the application of the Human Rights act and force governments to consider human rights impacts of climate when assessing new fossil fuel projects.
Community Environmental Prize - Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum
Friends of Leadbeater's Possum lead the challenge in the Federal Court to the legality of the exemption from federal environment legislation for logging under the Regional Forest Agreement. As well as protecting forests directly subject to the case, it has galvanised campaigns for forest protection, sparked new legal challenges, and caused hardware firm Bunnings to reject wood from VicForests.
Deni Greene Award - Professor Terry Hughes
Distinguished Professor Hughes is the former Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (2005-2020). In early 2020, he documented the largest bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef on record, with an aerial survey of 1,036 reefs find that 25 per cent of reefs were severely bleached. In 2016 Professor Terry Hughes was recognized by Nature as one of the “10 people who mattered this year” for his leadership in responding to the global coral bleaching event caused by climate change.
"I proudly share this award with my family and all the passionate volunteers who have taken brave action to protect water, stop climate breakdown and defend land rights. It’s completely futile for Adani to spend millions trying to shut down my campaigning. The Stop Adani movement is stronger than ever and bigger than just one individual. Bullying Australians will not change the fact most of us oppose Adani’s coal mine that threatens our children’s future," said Ben Pennings.
"Our Environmentalists of the Year underscore the rising tide of intelligent, determined Australians taking action against the unnecessary loss and destruction of this nation’s storehouse of nature. Three of the four winners are from Queensland where government-facilitated environmental destruction is notable on a global scale.
In every case, whether opposing the opening of new coal mines or saving forests or coral reefs in this age of climate emergency and deliberated mass extinction, these Australians have shown remarkable intelligence and courage and taken exemplary action for our one and only living planet, Earth,” said Bob Brown.