Manana Kochladze, founder of Georgian CEE Bankwatch member group Association Green Alternative, will today be awarded the prestigious Goldman Prize in recognition of her tireless campaign work on the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project. Tbilisi native Kochladze is one of seven international campaigners set to receive the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The USD 3.6 billion pipeline, led by BP with key support from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank and a host of other international lenders, has attracted intense scrutiny from concerned groups both in the pipeline transit countries and internationally.
Manana Kochladze said: "This prize is recognition of the work of grassroots activists from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey as well as international NGOs, in order to make the BTC pipeline project less harmful for local communities and the environment."
Manana Kochladze and her colleagues have been at the heart of this campaign work, vigorously pressing for a thorough examination of the project's environmental and social impacts. Due to poor project information and consultation procedures, Green Alternative has devoted itself to informing Georgian citizens about their BTC rights, supporting affected citizens in court actions and also in their dealings with the development banks who have committed to listening to the complaints of affected communites. The group continues to carry out vital monitoring of the pipeline.
At the EBRD's annual meeting yesterday, the opening statement by bank President Jean Lemierre included comments that on BTC the bank had arranged consultations with citizens in all the pipeline countries.
Manana Kochladze commented, "It is not enough to organise meetings and consultations. Local concerns need to be listened to on an ongoing basis and need to be converted into real project improvements, both for affected citizens and pipeline workers. I am very grateful to the Goldman Foundation for honouring me with this prize. It provides great encouragement for us to continue in our work to protect the rights of Georgians and other citizens across the region."
For more inforamtion:
Association Green Alternative (in San Francisco until April 26)