Cook Islands wins ‘Green Nobel’

Tuesday April 30, 2019 Written by Published in National
Marae Moana director Jacqui Evans has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is also referred to as the Green Nobel Prize. 19042903 Marae Moana director Jacqui Evans has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is also referred to as the Green Nobel Prize. 19042903

 Jacqui Evans, director of the Marae Moana Coordination Office, has won the world’s most prestigious award honouring grassroots environmental activists.

 The Goldman Environmental Prize, which is also referred to as the Green Nobel Prize, is awarded to people who make a sustained and significant effort to protect the environment, often at personal and professional risk. The award provides international recognition and visibility, as well as financial support for a specific environmental vision.

The prize is awarded annually to one person from each of the world’s six geographic regions. Evans was recognised in the islands and island nations category.

The decision was made by an international jury, who selected from nominations made by a global group of environmental organisations and champions.

Evans is currently in the United States to receive the award and meet with international leaders and media.

“I was surprised to hear that I’d won the prize,” she wrote via email. “I didn’t know I was nominated… I really think it was a team effort. People that played a critical role were Kevin Iro, Tou Ariki Travel, Maria Henderson, Paul Allsworth, the late Eruera Nia, Noeline Browne, and those at Te Ipukarea Society and on the Marae Moana Task Force. The prime minister also drove this at the political level.”

Evans was heavily involved in a five-year grassroots campaign to protect the Cook Islands’ oceans, which led to the passing of the Marae Moana Act in 2017.

The Marae Moana Act legislates sustainable management and conservation of the Cook Islands’ ocean territory, and protects more than 323,000 square kilometres of ocean from large-scale commercial fishing and seabed mining. Evans has been director and sole employee of its administrative unit, the Marae Moana Coordination Office, since the law came into effect.

Before becoming its director Evans, 48, worked as a fisheries surveillance officer for the Ministry of Marine Resources and then as a conservation officer at the Cook Islands Conservation Service.

Subsequently, she worked for Cook Islands News, the World Wildlife Fund, the Ministry of Health (where she addressed the impacts of wastewater on the marine environment), and as director of the Te Ipukarea Society, the country’s first environmental NGO.

In addition to acknowledging the team of people and community leaders she collaborated with to make Marae Moana a reality, Evans wrote that she intends to use the award to support the environment that so many Cook Islanders depend on and that so many tourists pay top dollar to experience.

“The award will be really good for the Cook Islands and for Marae Moana,” she wrote. “During our time here in San Francisco there are already people searching the Cook Islands online and telling me they want to come for a holiday. There are also people who have asked to meet to see how they can help with Marae Moana.”

 - Rachel Reeves

8 comments

  • Comment Link Warren Lee Long Friday, 03 May 2019 15:09 posted by Warren Lee Long

    Congratulations and great work to all of the Cook Islands teams who have helped led to this recognition. From Kevin, Prime Minister Henry Puna, Jacquie, Travel, to so many more, your vision and actions are always inspiring.

  • Comment Link Lolita Gibbons-Decherong Thursday, 02 May 2019 22:15 posted by Lolita Gibbons-Decherong

    Big Congratulations Jacqui. This great reward for your years of hard work. Hats-off too to my friends at TIS for their support of the Marae Moana.

  • Comment Link Mark Taruia Thursday, 02 May 2019 19:24 posted by Mark Taruia

    God bless you all PROTECTER OF THE ENVIROMENT The best news I've read in a long time you all saved the Cook Islands

  • Comment Link Mark Taruia Thursday, 02 May 2019 17:50 posted by Mark Taruia

    You and the team saved the Cook Islands ,The best news I have read in a long time well done and God bless you all PROTECTER OF THE ENVIROMENT

  • Comment Link Ngaire Karati Wednesday, 01 May 2019 18:01 posted by Ngaire Karati

    Congratulations maine Kuki Airani Jacqui Evans. Praise the good lord. For all the hard work you have done. Made your iti tangata Kuki Airani proud, Kia Toa E Maine.

  • Comment Link Steve Kurker Wednesday, 01 May 2019 17:07 posted by Steve Kurker

    Congratulatons Ms. Evans and thanks.

  • Comment Link Congratulations Jacqui! Your tireless effort to save the environment says it all for you, the House of Ariki and individuals like Kevin Iro and the Marae Moana Commitee who supported this initiative, and most importantly, the Prime Minister of the Cook Is Tuesday, 30 April 2019 16:21 posted by Congratulations Jacqui! Your tireless effort to save the environment says it all for you, the House of Ariki and individuals like Kevin Iro and the Marae Moana Commitee who supported this initiative, and most importantly, the Prime Minister of the Cook Is

    Congratulations Jacqui! Your tireless effort to save the environment says it all for you, the House of Ariki and individuals like Kevin Iro and the Marae Moana Commitee who supported this initiative, and most importantly, the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands.

  • Comment Link ULLI  Weiher Tuesday, 30 April 2019 16:08 posted by ULLI Weiher

    Keep up the important work you and your fellow workers are involved in. Congratulations.

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