Defender of the Amazon Wins 2011 Maury Albertson Medal

Environmental and Indigenous Rights Activist, Author and Attorney Judith Kimerling to receive 4th Annual Maury Albertson Medal for excellence in sustainability, social justice and empowerment. Kimerling will receive the medal for her defense of the Amazon rainforest and the human communities that depend on it for their culture and survival. According to David Bartecchi, Executive Director of Village Earth, “Kimerling’s research in the 1990s first blew the whistle on the devastating impacts that oil companies are having on the Amazon’s ecosystem. She has continued to this day to defend the rights of indigenous communities living in the Amazon and for remediation of their natural resources.” Judith Kimerling is a Professor at The City University of New York  (CUNY) Queens College.  After graduating from the University of Michigan and Yale Law School, she worked for seven years as an environmental litigator, including five years as an Assistant Attorney General for New York State, where she worked on the Love Canal litigation and other hazardous waste cleanup litigation and negotiations.  In 1989, she moved to Ecuador and worked with indigenous organizations in the Amazon Rainforest to document the environmental and social impacts of oil development there.  Her findings and photographs first placed concerns about the impact of oil production on indigenous peoples and the environment in tropical forests on the international environmental and human rights policy agendas.  Her book Amazon Crude was called “the Silent Spring of Ecuador” by The New York Times.  In the U.S., it prompted a prominent class action lawsuit, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc. Professor Kimerling currently serves as international counsel for Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (Defendemos Nuestro Territorio Huaorani), an alliance of indigenous Huaorani communities who came together to protect a 758,051-hectare area of rainforest known as “The Intangible Zone.”  Located in traditional Huaorani territory and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, The Intangible Zone is also home to the last known group of people still living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador’s Amazon region.  Professor Kimerling also serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of REDOIL, a network of Alaska Natives of seven tribes who joined forces to address the impact of the oil industry in Alaska and promote sustainable development on Native lands. Village Earth is currently developing a partnership with Ms. Kimerling to provide ongoing  support for her efforts with the Huaorani. Ticket sales have now been closed.