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Monday, May 10, 2010

Environmental and anti-globalisation activist Vandana Shiva awarded Sydney Peace Prize

Physicist, environmentalist and anti-globalisation activist Dr Vandana Shiva has been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for 2010 for her commitment to social justice, her advocacy of human rights, empowerment of women, and her scientific contribution to environmental sustainability.

The City of Sydney Peace Prize lecture will be delivered by Vandana Shiva at the Sydney Opera House on November 3 followed by an award ceremony on November 4.

Professor Stuart Rees, a Sydney Peace Foundation director, told AAP that Ms Shiva was an inspiring recipient, "Many communities are threatened by the consequences of global warming, yet in Australia the movement to address this issue has gone to sleep," he said. "Vandana's presence in Sydney in November should wake them up."

In December 2009 at the peoples Klimaforum in Copenhagen Vandana Shiva spoke with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, "We know we need climate action now. I come from the Himalaya. I just had an office in Delhi; I don’t live in Delhi. It’s a polluted city. The automobile has taken over. I come from the Himalaya. Our glaciers are melting. Our villages are getting flooded out or drying up. Agriculture is collapsing. Ninety percent of the food production in my area has collapsed in this year. Seventy percent of the streams have dried up. And that is not happening because of what the local people did. My journey in the environment movement began with Chipko, where women came out to hug the trees. We are now hugging our mountains and telling the polluters, “You’ve got to stop polluting, because you are stealing our water, you are stealing our food, you are stealing our snows."

Vandana Shiva's latest book from 2008 - Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis - deals with the global crises of food insecurity, peak oil, and climate change and why any attempt to solve one without addressing the others will get us nowhere. Industrial biofuels and agriculture are condemned as recipes for ecological and economic disaster, while the small independent farm is championed instead.

Her work in India over the last two decades has established an organic-farming movement called "Navdanya" based upon seed diversity and decentralization. Navdanya is a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 16 states in India. Her work to protect biodiversity and against biopiracy - patenting of biodiversity and traditional knowledge - has brought her into conflict with the large agri-corporations like Monsanto which have built profitable businesses from non-renewable seeds, and genetically modified crops. Local food production and farming also reduces the carbon footprint of food production and consumption, as well as providing higher incomes to farmers.

Mary Kostakidis, chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said "Vandana Shiva's work highlights the fundamental connection between human rights and the protection of the environment," she said, "She offers solutions to some of the most critical problems posed by the effects of globalisation and climate change on the poorest and most populous nations."


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