The winners of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize, otherwise known as the Green Nobel, were as eclectic and fascinating as ever: from an undercover reporter from Cambodia that put his life at risk to expose illegal logging, to a grandmother from Peru who is battling a huge American mining corporation.
The Goldman Environmental Prize, awarded to environmental activists from all six of the world's inhabited continental regions, was announced earlier this week at a ceremony in San Francisco. You may not have heard of most of the winners before, or in fact any of them - the prize is specifically awarded to "grassroots" leaders, women and men who are involved in local efforts, fighting to protect the planet from within their own communities, usually with very little international recognition. They are people who have chosen not to stand back and take the easy way out, but instead strive for environmental justice, often running great personal risk in the process.
Here's a look at the this year's six worthy winners.
Zuzana Caputova, Slovakia
When her home town of Pezinok in Western Slovakia became a dumping ground for waste from Western Europe, and toxic chemicals began leaching into the soil, Zuzana Caputova led a successful campaign to shut down the dump that was poisoning her community. Organising peaceful protests, gathering signatures and mobilising civil society, her actions set a precedent for civic engagement in Slovakia, with the victory in Pezinok marking the biggest mobilisation of citizens since the country's Velvet Revolution back in 1989.
Leng Ouch, Cambodia
Cambodian undercover reporter Leng Ouch, operating in a country where environmental activism can cost you your life, documented the illegal logging operations of his country's largest timber magnate, exposing the connections that existed between timber companies and government officials. His efforts resulted in the government cancelling land concessions that covered 220,000 acres of richly biodiverse forest, in a country that reportedly has the fifth fastest rate of deforestation in the world.
A grandmother and subsistence farmer from Northern Peru who never learned to read or write, Máxima Acuña is locked in a legal battle with a multinational mining company that is trying to force her to leave her land. In many Peruvian communities, mining waste has already polluted water supplies and contaminated once pristine ecosystems, and Máxima's persistence, despite harassment and threats, serves as an inspiration to many farmers in similar situations throughout Latin America.
Destiny Watford, USA
Twenty year old Destiny Watford, together with a group of her fellow students, managed to inspire the residents of Baltimore to shut down plans to build what would have been the biggest incinerator in the US, less than a mile from her school. The plant, had it been built, would have burnt more than 4,000 tonnes of rubbish, every single day, releasing high levels of mercury in a city that already has one of the highest emmissions-related mortality rates in the US.
Puerto Rican Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera successfully campaigned (for 16 years!) for the establishment of a nature reserve in his country's Northeast Ecological Corridor, blocking plans to build a megaresort on the land, fighting political corruption, and securing important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
Edward Loure, Tanzania
Born into a Maasai tribe in Tanzania, Edward Loure and his organisation have been championing sustainable development and community land rights for the past 20 years. In an effort to protect their people and their traditions, they pioneered a new model of land rights, formalising communities' land holdings and giving them legal documentation, which proved so successful that they are looking to replicate it throughout the country.
Winners of the prize are awarded threefold: with increased international recognition, a huge platform from which to present their issue, and financial support in the form of prize money totalling 175,000 USD. While all of these factors offer the winners the opportunity to take their projects even further, the main aim of the awards is to inspire others to take action. Whether it's by supporting the campaigns that these people already started, or by setting up a movement of their own, the founders of the prize wanted to inspire and motivate, encouraging other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the environment around them.