HaRDstories would like to congratulate the renowned environmental rights defender Niwat Roykaew for receiving this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
A school teacher turned river protector, Niwat has been campaigning to protect the ecosystem of the Mekong River and the lives of those that depend on it for more than 20 years.
In February 2020, his group’s advocacy resulted in the termination of a China-led project to blast a rocky, 400-kilometre stretch of the Mekong to deepen navigation channels for cargo ships travelling downstream.
Flowing 2,700 miles from the mountains of Tibet before reaching the South China Sea, the Mekong River’s fisheries, tributaries, wetlands, and floodplains feed more than 65 million people. This is the first time Thailand has suspended a transboundary project due to environmental concerns and public pressure.
Niwat played a crucial role in opposing the project that would have been environmentally devastating, according to experts. He continues to advocate for the well-being of the River Mekong and the surrounding environment from his home in Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai.
Photo: Luke Duggleby/Redux