Environmental Activist Andrea Vidaurre Wins Goldman Prize

Peruvian American Andrea Vidaurre was among the six recipients of the award considered the Novel equivalent for environmental activism

Andrea Vidaurre

2024 Goldman Prize winner Andrea Vidaurre (Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize)

Latina environmental activists have been at the forefront of change, advocating for their communities and protecting the earth. Over the years, several Latinas have won the distinguished Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the Green Nobel Prize, including Alessandra Korap Munduruku, a member of the Munduruku people from Brazil in 2023, Mexican-Colombian activist Nalleli Cobo in 2022, and Mayan beekeeper Leydy Pech in 2020. This year, the award has been given to 29-year-old Peruvian American activist Andrea Vidaurre, originally from Southern California, who has been recognized for her efforts to decrease transport pollution from trucks, trains, and cars in the Inland Empire. Her years of activism ended up pushing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt two regulatory policies that would decrease truck and train emissions in the spring of 2023, as well as two additional regulations that will lead to 100 percent zero emissions for freight truck sales by 2036. Her work will dramatically improve the air quality for millions of Californians all across the state, according to a press release from the Goldman award foundation.

“Many of us advocating for zero-emissions freight use the phrase, ‘We’re just trying to breathe,'” she said in a recent interview with Earth Justice about the prize. “The power of this phrase is its simplicity. We’re asking for what all living things do, and that’s to breathe. It’s human nature, and all of us who live in this area deserve to breathe clean, healthy air.”

As of 2022, California is home to over 39 million people, almost 8 percent of the overall population of the U.S. As a result, it’s also seen huge levels of pollution and emissions from boats, trains, and trucks transporting goods across the state, as well as an increase in air pollution-related illnesses like asthma and respiratory disease, which disproportionately affect communities of color. Over the years, there have been efforts to lower the levels of air pollution from vehicles but the demand for food, water, retail goods, construction materials, and mail packages – all things that are transported by trucks – has only increased.

It’s a world that Vidaurre is intimately familiar with, as she grew up in the Inland Empire, located east of Los Angeles County, with family who have worked at warehouses and freight airports for years and saw how toxic emissions personally affected her community. As the co-founder and policy coordinator of the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, she pushed CARB to adopt stricter regulations for trucks, helped mobilize labor unions to call for emission prevention policies, organized caravans of community members, translated testimony, led tours, worked with state legislators, and participated in workshops and site visits to bring awareness to the problems her community was facing.

As a result of her work, CARB enacted several rules and policies to lower truck and rail emissions including the Advanced Clean Trucks rule to enact zero truck emissions, the Advanced Clean Fleets Rule, and the In-Use Locomotive Rule. Under these new policies, CARB will shift truck sales in California to zero emissions by 2036 and heavy-duty truck and locomotive adoption by 2045, which could prevent thousands of respiratory illness-related deaths over the next thirty years. Eight U.S. states including New Jersey, New York, and Washington have adopted California’s regulations as well, making moves toward substantial change across the country.

Vidaurre received the Goldman Prize in recognition of this outstanding work alongside five other individuals across the six world continents. Founded in 1989, the prize rewards “ordinary individuals for their outstanding environmental achievements” and inspires other to do the same, according to the foundation’s website.

“The fight has just begun. Passing these rules is incredibly important, but there’s no point to them if we don’t follow through on the implementation. If we do nothing, we’ll never see the changes fully realized. We need to continue to strengthen these rules and ensure California is doing everything it can to be a leader in zero-emissions standards,” she told Earth Justice. “Structural change is the only way we’re going to achieve a goods movement system that works for all of us.”

In this Article

activist Andrea Vidaurre Environment Goldman Environmental Prize Latina activist news peruvian pollution
More on this topic