WMU PhD Candidate Kristal Ambrose Receives Prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize 2020

The World Maritime University is delighted to announce that PhD candidate, Kristal Ambrose, is the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient for Islands and Island Nations. The prestigious Goldman Prize is the world’s foremost environmental prize and honours outstanding environmental activism through community and citizen participation on critical sustainability issues facing the planet. 

Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

Kristal founded the Bahamas Plastic Movement in 2013 to develop solutions to plastic pollution and to educate young people on the importance of a clean and healthy ocean. The international jury selected Kristal for her extraordinary leadership, operating outside of the traditional power structures and marshaling science, advocacy, and youth empowerment to get The Bahamas focused on plastics, including convincing the government to enact a nation-wide single-use plastic ban. The nationwide ban went into effect in January 2020 and can be considered a model for Islands and Island States worldwide. 

Kristal joined WMU in September 2020 to undertake a PhD focused on plastic pollution as part of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute’s Closing the Circle capacity development and research programme on marine debris, Sargassum and marine spatial planning in the Eastern Caribbean. The programme is underpinned by generous funding from The Nippon Foundation of Japan and supports six PhD students undertaking advanced academic research on overcoming the challenges associated with marine debris in the Caribbean.  

On receipt of the award, Kristal shared her joy saying, ‘Receiving both the Goldman Environmental Prize and The Nippon Foundation Scholarship to join the World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute promotes feelings of humility, gratitude and pride. I'm honored to be recognized at this level and feel extremely motivated to continue advocating for healthier oceans’.  

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, congratulated Kristal on her accomplishment. “We are so pleased that Kristal’s dedication and hard work on eliminating ocean plastics in The Bahamas has been recognized by the award of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. This award acknowledges the inspirational leadership, hard work and community commitment of a very talented WMU doctoral candidate who is having a definitive impact in the fight to save our oceans, and ensure sustainable use of the planet for future generations.”

Normally, the winners are awarded the Prize in-person at a ceremony at the San Francisco Opera House coinciding with Earth Day in April, but this year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Prize was awarded virtually on 30 November 30 2020.

To view the Goldman Environmental Prize video about Kristal's work, click here.

About the Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Each year, the Prize recognizes six heroes of the environment, selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. It honors grassroots environmental heroes from roughly the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

About the World Maritime University

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The mission of WMU is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development. WMU’s vision is to inspire leadership and innovation for a sustainable maritime and oceans future. WMU is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

About the Closing the Circle PhD Programme

The World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute is pleased to implement, with the generous support of The Nippon Foundation, The "Closing the Circle" Programme: Exploring challenges and advancing potential solutions to marine debris, Sargassum threats and marine spatial planning in Small Island Developing States with a particular focus on the Eastern Caribbean region. The objective of the programme is to increase knowledge and provide solutions for key environmental issues facing the region through state-of-the-art research and training with a view to support the implementation and advancement of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Further information about the Closing the Circle project and team can be found at:http://closing-the-circle.wmu.se/

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