June 25, 2009 — Two long-time Asia Foundation program partners, Syeda Rizwana Hasan of Bangladesh, and Yuyun Ismawati (left) of Indonesia, were each awarded the highly-coveted Goldman Environmental Prize. The $150,000 prizes recognize outstanding individuals who have led local efforts that have achieved significant environmental impact. The award was created to further enable these leaders to continue their work.
“For many years, both Rizwana in Bangladesh, and Yuyun in Indonesia have been at the forefront of Asia Foundation environment initiatives,” said Christopher Plante, director of The Asia Foundation’s Environment Program. “Their dedication in the face of immeasurable challenges has inspired us, and we salute them for receiving this well-deserved recognition.”
Syeda Rizwana Hasan (below), 40, is a lawyer and executive director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a non-governmental organization established in 1992. BELA has played a leading role in promoting environmental legal advocacy in Bangladesh. The Asia Foundation is one of BELA’s original supporters.
BELA’s achievements include landmark court decisions that recognized the constitutional right to a clean environment, stemmed industrial pollution, banned smoking in public vehicles, ordered environmental compensation, and, directed public agencies to take actions to protect the environment.
Through BELA, Ms. Hasan has represented communities through numerous cases involving encroachment on public property, air, water, and soil pollution. Most recently, Ms. Hasan has lobbied for legislation to protect Bangladesh’s environment and reduce the environmental health and safety hazards faced by workers in the ship-breaking industry.
Yuyun Ismawati, 44, is founder and director of Bali Fokus Foundation, an Indonesian non-governmental organization working on environmental management, pollution control and prevention, and sustainable development issues since 2000.
Ms. Yuyun’s environmental projects have received support from The Asia Foundation since 1996, during which time she successfully pressured major hotels in Bali to reduce solid waste and improve recycling. Her promotion of “green tourism” became a model that has successfully been replicated in the resort areas of Ubud, Candi Dasa, and Hua Hin, Thailand.
Ms. Yuyun’s work focuses on finding community-based solutions for adequate, safe, and sustainable waste management. Ms. Yuyun has spearheaded numerous initiatives with funding from The Asia Foundation including the NGO-Business Environmental Partnership project.